Often times I think this forum lacks input and discussion from current KS debaters who really are the ones that this forum should be for, especially in this instance when youâ€™re talking about an award directed at them. While the input from coaches and former debaters is valuable because they contribute opinions based on experiences theyâ€™ve had with high school and college debate on all sides and also out of the state, student opinions are also necessary and should be carefully consider just like any otherâ€™s because it really is about what we want since this is an activity, just like any other extracurricular, whose purpose is to better the student in some capacity. So while I am graduating this year I think I can still lump myself with the high school debater crowd for a couple more weeks and want this post to speak for the current debaters of Kansas because I know that I do share the same sentiment as the majority of debaters in this state that I know and probably more who I am not acquainted with. And if not, then hopefully this will provoke them to participate in the discussion as well.
As I said in my first, brief post I fully support the idea of another incentive for teams to preform and work hard consistently throughout the season but just donâ€™t believe the proposed models, if left unchanged, would work. I however, do support Rubaieâ€™s six tournament choice system. I donâ€™t want to comment on the merits of this particular way of determining the Team of Year Award versus a different formula, rather I want to defend the idea of this award in any similar capacity (read as: DCI bid leader/winner/state champs doesnâ€™t count), from the perspective of a current high school debater, since none of you participating in this discussion can really claim that, and hopefully bring a different angle to the discussion.
Cieraâ€™s reasons why team of the year award would be good for Kansas (these all overlap and basically have the same point which is DCI is in no way an authority on who the best team in KS is):
1. Like Rubaie said, offense v. defense- this could ONLY encourage people to work harder. I honestly donâ€™t see any logic in the arg that this would devalue other accomplishments such as winning state or DCI (itâ€™s STATE and DCI, those will always be important) and I donâ€™t think anyone else does either, besides Phil, so thereâ€™s no disad to doing this. Itâ€™s simple, the prospect of being named team of the year based on your body of work rather than your luck at a tournament like State or DCI incentivizes teams to consistently work hard. Maybe thatâ€™s non-unique but it would be nice to recognize those people.
2. It doesnâ€™t punish teams for engaging in certain styles of debate, like I believe DCI does, in turn promoting teams to experience new styles.
a. Teams who wish to debate outside the state (something I support) can contend for this award equally with teams who do not. Lay debate tournaments would not have an advantage over national circuit tournaments outside the state.
Example: This year Reid and I didnâ€™t have a shot at being the bid leaders because we wanted to debate at tournaments outside the state.
b. To get bids for DCI you have to engage in the style of DCI which isnâ€™t necessarily the best. With this award, a team that excels at their particular style, no matter what it is, could have a shot. This award awards teams for being great at what they do best and doesnâ€™t force them to engage in a kind of debate they neither want to do, nor are good at, whether it be open debate or national circuit debate, or a nice conflation of the two. This award doesnâ€™t prioritize the institution of DCI over all other kinds of debate.
Example: Many teams would have preferred to go SME this year because they believed it was more conducive to their style of debate and enjoy it more but were compelled to go to Newton instead because it was the bid tournament, sacrificing the opportunity to practice the type of debate they prefer. To be clear, Iâ€™m not saying Newton was a bad tournament, I am saying that it is different than SME and teams shouldnâ€™t have to mold to a type of debate they donâ€™t enjoy just because of the pressure from the accepted norm that DCI is the ultimate achievement.
(sorry if this hardnumbering is too obnoxious, can you tell Iâ€™m a 2A? lol)
3. I donâ€™t believe DCI champ/bid leader is a sufficient way to determine the best team in Kansas.
a. DCI bid leader only accounts for DCI bid tournaments, obviously, leaving out other tournaments of equal or greater caliber such as Shawnee Mission East or tournaments outside the state.
Example: Glenbrooks is a freaking difficult and competitive tournament; I want some credit for going 5-2 and being the 35th seed! I want my octo-final finish at Valley to count for something! Is that wrong of me? I really donâ€™t think this is me being narcissistic; I just want some kind of recognition for my successes just like any other competitive person does.
b. Frankly, I think DCI is a bad tournament. Or perhaps a better way to say it would be- a bad tournament considering how good it is supposed to be. I donâ€™t mean to offend, itâ€™s just an opinion. Read this next part carefully because I donâ€™t want there to be any misunderstanding about this distinction Iâ€™m about to make. When I go to any tournament in Kansas I expect there to be moms and I intend on adapting for them. I expect to be judged on speaking style and I expect that I will lose some rounds for reasons that make no sense. I expect that the judges wonâ€™t understand what a policy debate is and I donâ€™t expect them to flow or carefully consider and adjudicate the round. I have learned many things from tournaments like this and DO VALUE THEM. However, when I go to a tournament that is purported to be a competition between the best teams in the state with the best judging in the state I expect that judges will flow, carefully decide the round, and have the same if not better basic understanding of debate that I do. I do not mean I expect them to be ok with critiques, or topical counterplans, or even conditionality. I mean I expect them to know what stock issues are, to understand the concept of offense and defense, to be able effectively evaluate a round in which I go for a disadvantage. Is that unreasonable? DCI is put on a pedestal and commonly considered the best tournament when it really isnâ€™t. I donâ€™t have a problem with DCI existing, I just donâ€™t think it should be as unwarrantedly inflated as it is and I would be happy to see an alternative achievement (ie team of the year award) more sought after and valued.
Example: Thereâ€™s no logical explanation for how I could get 6th speaker at KCKCC and like 60th at DCI if they are supposed to be so similar.
4. Luck can be a bitch sometimes. A comprehensive award isnâ€™t as subject to instances of unluckiness that individual tournaments are. So you got really tough presets one tournament, or you got judges for octos that arenâ€™t jiving with your style? That could be overlooked with this award whereas it is the end all at DCI or state.
Example: Iâ€™m writing from the perspective of someone who considers herself a good debater, so if you disagree with that then you will totally disagree with this anecdote. I lost 3 rounds in a row the first day of state this year and I absolutely believe (and have support for this belief) that at least two of them were totally out of my and my partnerâ€™s control. We had shitty luck that no amount of skill or preparation could overcome and for that I was automatically out of contention for State Champs. It sucked and I wish there had been an award like this so I wouldnâ€™t have ended my senior season with nothing to claim, or if I had I at least wouldnâ€™t have felt shafted.
I likely wonâ€™t post again on this issue because this took way too long and I generally find thereâ€™s nothing to respond to.
It would be nice if this post wasnâ€™t met with as much undue hostility as my posts normally incite. I would challenge debaters and coaches alike to try and bring more class to these discussions not only to protect your credibility, but also the stateâ€™s as a whole. Which, by the way, contrary to popular belief I do care about tremendously and only want to see improved because of the love I have for the activity.