William E Newnam
Thu Nov 6 11:29:48 CST 1997
I usually find myself in agreement with Joel about most things, but I
choose to disagree Puh-leez.
I have been proposing the six round format for longer than I have been old
and it began with a conversation with Chuck Kauffman. He pointed out that
debate "meets" were transformed to tournaments in order to expand the
number of debates. At that time debaters were still deeply invested in
the oral tradition and it seems to me that they were less complex,
required less digestion of intense academic literature by the panelists,
and people could hear the words of the evidence read in the debate and
tended to evaluate them aurally rather than by rereading massive parts of
THOSE OLDE DAYS ARE GONE. THIS IS NOT ABOUT NOSTALGIA. I think that
debates are far more interesting, academically rigorous and challenging.
There will be no return to those days.
BUT, Professor Kauffman also pointed out that the emphasis was on the
DEBATES rather than on the DECISIONS. If we as judges choose to invest
more than two to four hours of every debate day reading evidence, engaging
in intense post-round discussions, and attempting to justify our decisions
orally, then that time WILL and DOES come out of something.
Unfortunately, it is coming out of sleep, food, and collegial visits.
What than should we do? I think that each tournament has to arrive at its
own level of comfort and let programs decide where they choose to go. I
wish some eight round tournaments which currently exist would go to six.
And I am happy that some, such as the National Championship tournaments
I am sympathetic with the argument that students who need debates will not
get as many as they need, but here I am forced into the weak position of
arguing what we do NOT know.
1. How many students stop debating because they do not think it is worth
the investment in time and school?
I know we were losing some which is one of the reason our CEDA program
began in the eighties, to provide those students with a livable
alternative in light of the decline of three-day regional tournaments in
District six. (leave friday, debate two or three rounds three or four
rounds on Saturday. Elims sunday and return sunday p.m.)
2. How many experienced high school students quit because they enjoyed
debate at the less rigorous level of high school, but are not ready either
be experience or by commitment to invest in the professionalized
tournaments at the elite end of the activity?
We had several very good debaters who left NDT and went to CEDA because
many of the tournaments they could attend in CEDA were less stressful than
the intense eight round tournaments in NDT.
Our experience tells us that many students are discouraged from
participating because the intense commitment and time spent AT the
tournament spills over into other parts of their life.
So, before we speak to those who choose to stay, we also need to think
about those who choose to leave or do not try at all. One of the most
disturbing things to me is that we currently lack efforts to retain and
recruit those who do not come in rabidly committed to our communities'
expectations of time and commitment in debate. Alternative six round
formats enhance the prospects that individuals will join and stay with
debate through gradual immersion.
3. Which leads to the question: Are we losing more debates because we
have less rounds? Well, for current participants yes. BUT, if there were
more debaters because the activity was more humane and less driven by the
zealous, perhaps more individuals would choose to stay or try it out. As
it is, the data that folks are referencing (See Mancuso) is self-contained
and merely proves that for current participants there are fewer debates.
That does not at all mean that there would be less debates if their were
more participants. In fact, if we enouraged more participants, there
might be more debates not less. For every four participants we add that
is at least 24 debates in six-round format. If we add 16 debaters we add
sixty-four debates at EACH tournament. Statistics can be misleading,
especially if they are self referential.
RE: Tournament outcome/results.
I think that you will get a statistically superior sample of who will
clear with more debates. But, we don't have ten rounds and we don't have
twelve rounds. The reason is we haven't the time. Since the seventies we
have added time to tournaments without subtracting from anything. We need
to rethink this situation and attempt to provide alternative formats for
debaters and potential debaters of all kinds.
As Kauffman said, the important thing is the debates not the competitive
results of decisions.
On Thu, 6 Nov 1997, Joel David Rollins wrote:
> oh Puh-leeez,
> this is not about debaters being introspective about their conservative or
> liberal tendencies. it should be about what is best for the debate
> community. i've done my introspection, i've "rethought", so to speak, so
> let's look at why liberals might be a little reticent about moving to six
> i suggest that the six round format is a conservative proposal based in a
> nostalgic rhetoric. its primary imagery is pastoral, harkening to some
> golden day of debate when coaches and debaters didn't get tired and all was
> right with the world.
> it is also a proposal that will HURT the majority of debaters by giving
> them less experience while benefitting only an elite few who are fortunate
> enough to be debating in late elims. i suggest that moving to six rounds
> is typical of many conservative proposals--golden age rhetoric woven into
> policies that help the already privileged. it will cost poorer programs
> like ours MORE money to get the same amount of rounds. as such, it is a
> quitessentially regressive conservative proposal.
> who is hurt by six rounds? the majority of debaters attending a tournament
> who don't get the extra rounds two rounds, the teams at the margins of a
> first round who don't get the powered rounds to debate quality teams with
> good judges in those critical rounds 7 and 8.
> duck says there is no event like this that makes it an endurance contest.
> how about the law or graduate school? this, i think, is a good argument
> for eight rounds and five elims if entries warrant. endurance makes debate
> special: what other activity can provide training for late nights at the
> law firm, getting up the next morning and trying the case? what other
> activity can train people to stay sharp even when they don't want to? what
> other activity prepares one for the rigors of graduate school or writing a
> dissertation or any other activity where pushing mental capabilities to
> the limit is key?
> for my part, six round were just as stressful because of the additional
> arbitrariness imposed by the format. each win was critical, points were
> even moreso, and if you were unfortunate enough to get pulled up there was
> almost no chance for the power-match to correct. as others have commented,
> wins are less arbitrary than points, and one bad pull-up can knock you out
> of the tournament.
> i was just as tired after six rounds--perhaps because of down time and no
> chance for the adrenaline to stabilize. i don't know. i do admit, i liked
> rounds starting at nine in the morning. that was nice. but this was more
> than made up for by the additional stress i encountered by worrying about
> every decision.
> bottom line:
> debate is good, we can afford more debating with eight rounds. six
> rounds benefits only an elite few and imposes a regressive penalty on
> poorer programs.
>From Thu Nov 6 11:02:11 1997
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 11:02:11 -0600
Reply-To: rchurch at frank.mtsu.edu
To: Team Topic Debating in America <EDEBATE at LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Russell Church <rchurch at FRANK.MTSU.EDU>
Organization: Middle Tennessee State University
Subject: Re: 8 vs. 6
Comments: To: MR JOSEPH P ZOMPETTI <LPCK66A at PRODIGY.COM>
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I do not mean to demean anyone's experiences and emprical research is
not antithetical to exploring the individual experience. I just notice
that this is a topic that could be studied empirically in terms of
results and personal experiences. But at this point a lot of untested
assertions are out there and we don't have very good information on how
accurate our perceptions are and how our experiences match the
experiences of others.
MR JOSEPH P ZOMPETTI wrote:
> hello everyone....
> Russell Church said:
> >We need some empirical research on 6 vs. 8 and other round number
> >perhaps time limit alternatives to study what is talked about so
> >and without evidence on the listserv. I know of only one study that
> >ever done and it was done 20 years ago about 8 vs. 6 rounds and it
> >showed pretty clearly there was absolutely no significant difference
> >seeding and outcomes. Now there were some teams that cleared vs.
> >not clear in the study, but there was not enough difference (except
> >those teams) to make a difference. However, I think we need to do
> >kind of study again. It concerns me that an activity that is based
> >the belief in good quality evidence debates these issues without
> >studies that have survived a referred journal submission process.
> why the faith in empiricism? doesn't anyone's experience count? it
> seems to me that the posts so far concerning DC have been insightful
> on their own...perhaps one tournament isn't enough to make a judgment,
> but "emprirical research" hardly seems to be the answer.
> statistical analysis may satisfy some who require hard numbers to
> crunch on concerning the probability of such and such and the
> depersonalized effect of such and such. but the weariness of coaches,
> debaters, and tournament hosts, the overall social experience, the
> benefit of obtaining 2 extra rounds for educational purposes, the
> additional experience gained by working under more stress, etc., are
> difficult if not impossible things to "measure" with quantitative
> instruments. in fact, i don't think they should be measured with
> such instruments because the holistic and underlying nature of
> experiences are by definition, experiential. besides, Church
> suggests that for a community that believes in "good, quality"
> evidence we need statistics. The last i can recall, most of the
> debates i've judged have put more value on TESTIMONIALS (of expert
> opinions) rather than statistical nonsense.
> just my outside opinion...i unfortunately don't have a 6 round tourn.
> experience to share. that is perhaps why i'm interested in reading
> more about how others felt.
615-898-2640 (Department Secretary)
MTSU Box 43
Murfreesboro, Tn. 37132
CHECK OUT MTSU DEBATE TEAM HOME PAGE!
CHECK OUT RUSS'S HOME PAGE!
>From Thu Nov 6 12:58:31 1997
Date: Thu, 6 Nov 1997 12:58:31 -0500
Reply-To: deon_garner at STUDENTS.MOREHOUSE.EDU
To: Team Topic Debating in America <EDEBATE at LIST.UVM.EDU>
From: Deon Garner <deon_garner at STUDENTS.MOREHOUSE.EDU>
Subject: Tenn. Tech.
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Does anyone know what Tenn. Tech runs on the affirmative?
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