Should the D7 tournament change?
Jay I Igiel
Tue Feb 27 16:35:57 CST 2001
Last weekend I judged at the D7 qualifier. Congrats to all the teams that
made it out there were some fine debates. Having attended the district
tournament 3 years as a competitor and 1 as a judge I believe that it is a
necessity that the procedures for the District tournament are modified.
I am positive that I am not alone in my feelings that the tournament in its
current form is not the best way to qualify teams. Every year debaters who did
or did not make it out of the tournament complain about the format and this holds
true for the coaches and some of the directors.
Here are the problems with the tournament as I perceive them.
1) When a single teams distances themselves from the rest of the field another
team unfairly gets hurt. For example this year 7 ballots (and one six) where
required to get out. Entering round 6 GT had 10 ballots. That meant that a team
with 5 or six ballots got pulled up to hit GT while the other 5 or 6 ballot teams
where debating amongst themselves. It happens every year that some teams get
pulled up brackets at the district tournament while some teams catch a very lucky
break. This results in the luck of the draw being supremely important for middle
teams that are fighting their way out instead of their skills effecting the
result. I know upsets can happen but would you rather be debating a teams with
4/5 ballots or 10 ballots in your break round.
2) The tournament becomes almost impossible to pair because of side constraints,
teams previously hit and the fact that most school bring two teams.
3) Every year questions get raised about why certain teams where "protected" and
why certain teams where pulled up - often multiple times. I know this is a
function of necessity because the tournament is difficult to pair but clouds of
suspicion still hang over the whole procedure. I have known the people in tab
room for 5 years and I am friends with some of them and do not doubt their
integrity but I think that even they will agree that even when a pairing is
necessary because no other pairing is literally possible (yes that happens)
people still question the politics behind the decision. Those suspicions should
be removed from the process.
I think the format for the district tournament should change. Below I
discuss some the of the offered alternatives that people have suggested this
1. Rankings instead of a tournament - Two problems with this. A) Every team in
the D7 deserves to get a shot out of districts. B) It is to political.
Directors will protect their teams and protect against any potential backlash.
Even if all the rankings are fair it still looks political.
2. Removal - Once a team has qualified to the NDT remove them from the
tournament or have them debate a team that has been mathematically eliminated.
This solution does solve the 5 hitting the 10 ballot team in the final round but
presents potential difficulty that it may be impossible to pair the tournament if
you remove this team. Also it leaves open the question of how seeding which
effect NDT draws will occur.
3) An open tournament like D6. I think that having more teams in the tournament
would solve some of the pairing problems but this is not an ideal solution.
Unlike D6 our teams do not get multiple first rounds (meaning that neutral third
teams fill out the field) or have the depth to make this system work. Why bring
a third or fourth teams which presumably is not as competitive for other teams to
get ballots from.
4) Get rid of the 2 judge panel. One problem is that because d7 uses a two
judge panel is that many teams have the same ballot count while some teams run
away from the field. Using a one or two judge panel would means that instead of
three rounds in round 5 that could all split and hence mean that round 5
accomplished nothing that three teams would take a step ahead and three teams
would take a step back. There are a couple of problems with this solution.
First, 3 judge panel under any circumstance is best but the tournament has
enough trouble filling the two judge requirement. Second, a one judge panel is
not desirable because I believe that the judging pool is not deep enough in
quality in some circumstances. There is a reason for so many splits at
districts. A Mutually Preferred Judging system would solve this problem I am
just not sure if there are enough teams and judges to make this work. (especially
as judge requirements in terms of how many one would need to bring) would drop.
Someone more familiar with the system might be able to answer that.
My suggestion is no matter what changes are implemented:
1) Hire a non D7 person to run the tab room. This should be done no matter what
solution is used. It removes any political element and maybe adds a judge to the
pool. (Remarks about Decker judging aside :) )
2) Use a computer program to pair. At least its bad decisions or difficult
choices are 100% objective. Can any software pair under the old rules??
3) Keep the two judge panels or use a Mutually preferred judging system while
maintaining the requirements for the number of judges needed.
I think the D7 tournament should consists of 8 random rounds as selected by a
computer. It is 100% objective. The odds for even draws is greatly increased.
The pairing could even be further evened out by pre tournament rankings. Such as
divide the tournament into 4 groups like starting from the top down and them have
each team debate two teams from the same group. Or have the ranking of teams
debated be as equal as possible after 8 rounds like rounds 1 and 2 are currently
paired. The non D7 director, the computer program and random pairing would all
check the political problem while still keeping the Powers that be (had to have a
wrestling reference) happy. The entire tournament could be paired at a single
time relieving a lot of the difficulties of pairing on the run and make the
tournament run more smoothly as the traditional 90 minute wait would be
eliminated more than making up for the two extra rounds.
People have also raised issues such a disclosure (the negative effects it has)
and maybe a system for debate run offs instead of speaker points as a tie
breaker but I have typed enough for now (and yes my spelling and typing sucks)
I am no expert by far in how to run a tournament but I know that few people are
happy in the SQ and that the debaters themselves should chime in with their
preference as the tournament most directly effects them.
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