[eDebate] Small Schools & Disclosure-- From Mick Souders

Matt Cormack mattedebate
Wed Apr 12 10:32:56 CDT 2006


Matt,
Could you forward this to edebate?  I do not have
privileges.  Thanks.
Mick
 
With all due respect Anna, I believe you are mistaken
about disclosure and I believe your advice to small
schools about disclosure may be counterproductive.  At
a basic level, I find affirmative disclosure one of
the few gentle-?personly? practices in the debate
community.  Further, disclosure helps small schools,
not hurts them.  It seems that you believe that lack
of disclosure is a legitimate choice that people
should respect.  Obviously, it is a choice you have a
right to make, but generally I would argue that
choosing not to disclose your affirmative is not a
?legitimate? choice that others need to simply accept
without objection.  However polite you may be when you
alert the other team that your team does not disclose,
I think you are violating one of debate?s informal
etiquette standards and can expect the other team to
be frustrated about it.
I think I have credibility on this subject, having
debated at small schools for my debate career, having
had the experience of being the first team from my
school to make it to the ?show? and having to engage
large schools immediately there, and I can tell you
that disclosure is helpful because it?s mutual.  On
the negative, considering the limited amount of
resources that small teams have, knowing what aff you
are about to debate allows you to coble together
strategies and arguments from donated back files, your
one coach, glean advice from other schools, etc. 
Small schools win a lot of rounds on arguments such
theoretical objections to the plan, PICs, and
critiques--all of which are aided by disclosure
because specifics can be written out pre-round. On the
affirmative, I think that in the end you are more
likely to suffer from lack of disclosure than be aided
by it.  Large squads have had weeks and months and
several debaters and sometimes coaches to prepare for
a debate?a lack of 30 minutes is less likely to hurt
them than you.  In the day and age of the agent CP,
the K, Consulting Everyone, you are likely to get
outgunned on generics that will reduce your chance of
winning.  A small squad is unlikely to have offensive
answers to consulting the R, the J, the B, the I, the
EU, the UN, Congress, XO, and the half dozen politics
scenarios anyone is carrying.  By forcing large teams
into ?audible? mode, you are likely to get arguments
that do not aid you with your specific case.  Of
course, it is possible and even likely that large
teams would run such positions anyway, but there is no
need force them into it.  More likely, the squads you
are likely to get over on by lack of disclosure is
other small squads?a favor they will happily return to
you down the road. 
Also, a large school WILL find out what aff you run. 
The only time they might not is very early in the
year, if you are out of region, and if you have not
attended a national tournament; otherwise, they will
find out relatively quickly.  And here?s the thing?you
don?t have the same advantages if finding out what
THEY run.  You probably have one or two coaches and
maybe one or two teams?cumulatively, your squad is a
lot less likely to have debated or judged the
opposition than vice-versa.  Second, your extensive
judging commitment means you have less free time to
wander about looking for a team that has debated your
opposition lately.  I?m a perfect example of this,
although my free time is a result of the communities?
judgment of my adjudicating capabilities rather than a
small judging commitment.  I generally have time to
wander about asking questions of teams that have
debated and coaches that have judged KU?s opponents.
Third, the large squad probably has multiple affs they
have already broken, so even if they are unlikely to
break a new affirmative against you, they have may
still have 2-5 affirmative ready to roll at one point
in time even if you do find out what they ran Round 2.
 And changing affirmatives mid-tournament because you
wouldn?t disclose to their teammates earlier is
exactly the sort of competitive vengeance debaters
enjoy.    
So I think you do your students a disservice by not
disclosing.  You get a one time benefit over a squad
(unless you are not disclosing in novice or JV, in
which case you taking advantage of the lack of
resources directed toward novice and JV competitors
and lowering the preparedness of already relatively
unprepared debaters.  It seems just wrong to get so
fiercely competitive that you would lower the quality
of debate on purpose in divisions who emphasis on
education is even higher than that of the varsity
rounds) and in return you get lowered education from
lack of specific argument, nasty debates, a lack of
legitimacy in arguments about pre-round prep, a
degraded relationship with the opposing squads
(especially the debaters, if not the coaches who are
more likely to understand your position), vengeful
opposing squads, the ceding of pre-round prep, and the
movement of the debate into territory that does not
help you.
This something I feel fairly strongly about. 
Considering all of these problems, please re-consider
your position on disclosure.  I would conclude by
advising any small squad to embrace disclosure.  Large
squads are not gunning for you and disclosing will not
result in a rush of research to develop a specific
case hit against your tiny case.  Even if they DO have
a case hit, you should WANT to debate it.  If your
case is small enough, you should be able to predict it
the case hit.  Case in point, at NW CEDA Champs
elimination rounds during the Indians topic, we were
pretty sure Whitman BO had a case hit on our small
mascots affirmative.  Despite the fact we knew and had
answers to the only three viable counterplans and two
specific Ks in the literature, we spooked.  We broke a
new affirmative.  This is the definition of the wrong
strategic pre-round choice.  Apparently, internal
sovereignty is real bad and somehow Indian Health
Services is crucial to internal sovereignty worldwide.
 I?m not sure BO had that specific link evidence but
that didn?t really matter considering we were not
really up on this debate and got beat like we stole
something.  And that?s the thing to remember?the
seductive ?they won?t get specific links to their
generics? argument isn?t actually likely to win you a
debate.  To this day I am sure that if we had
disclosed we would have stood a better chance debating
it out over a specific mascots strategy (assuming I?m
right and Whitman had one).
 
Mick

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