Mavericks and ad hoc policy

Sarah E Ryan Sarah_E_Ryan
Mon Feb 15 12:39:48 CST 1999

     I responded to Ross in a backchannel, because I really didn't
     anticipate that a thread would emanate around the discussion of
     maverick debaters...but seeing that it has, I will voice my opposition

     Developing hard-and-fast rules that require team participation in
     tournaments deny the reality of the quandaries that small squads face
     when attending tournaments. While I believe that every squad
     legitimately attempts to assemble two-person teams for competition,
     sometimes it is simply impossible (or very difficult) to deliver a
     "normal" team to compete.  While I do not pretend that larger squads
     don't face the exact same issues, their available solutions are
     infinitely more attractive...
        We'll only have 3 teams in Open instead of 4
        Maybe we won't be able to travel to two tournaments this weekend
        Divide the phone list up and give everyone 10 names to call to
           see if we can get someone at the last minute...

     Here were my options:
        Take a novice debater (with serious delusion of grandeur) who had
           just stated that he felt our Open debater was so beneath him
           that he was going to punish her and the squad, with us for the
        Have NO teams in open and have my Open debater sit out for most
           of February
        Not travel at ALL until March (next time the squad is traveling)

     I tried to find a swing partner.  I posted and talked with the
     tournament before we left Ohio.  WE DIDN'T GET A SWING.  Had there
     been a hard and fast rule about maverick partners, I would have had to
     adopt one of the solutions listed above...attractive!

     I truly understand the potential for abuse that Ross posits, but I
     hardly fear that a few mavericks here and there are going to so upset
     the balance of policy debate as to make things undesirable for
     everyone.  (additionally, this implicit assumption of
     partnership=better debating has not been justified.  I would argue
     that while it may lead to increased education in many circumstances,
     there are times when the educational purpose of debate would be
     undermined by not allowing mavericks... i.e. people don't get to
     participate or as in the scenario described above, it becomes a
     horrible situation for all involved.)

     What truly bothers me in this discussion, is that no one has offered
     any help to the programs that find themselves in this situation.  The
     "odd" team out (usually a smaller program without the student
     participation to be able to grab a partner at the last minute) suffers
     all of the consequences.  Maybe large programs with a huge student
     participation base should bring extra people.  Perhaps more people
     should respond to requests for swing partners when they are posted on
     e-debate...  We are a small school, but at Novice Nats. we will have
     at least 5 different schools traveling with us.  They needed swing
     partners, monetary help, etc.  We are doing all we can for them. "You
     want to travel?" I ask, "Then Capital will do what it can to make that
     happen."  If all squads addressed the situation in this manor, there
     would be no "maverick problems."  This seems to be more "fair" from my
     limited viewpoint.  Why vilify maverick debaters and their programs
     instead of saying "how can we help you to be able to participate in
     our community this week?"

     Sarah E. Ryan
     Coach of one of those "untouchable" maverick debaters

     P.S. It REALLY disturbs me that this discussion did not emanate a few
     weeks ago when the maverick thread was going strong, but instead it
     began when I lauded two womyn debaters for their courage... not an
     accusation, just a reflection.

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