[eDebate] CEDA Nats--The good, the bad, and the ugly

Sue Peterson bk2nocal
Fri Apr 7 12:25:47 CDT 2006

I agree with just about everything Neil says in this post, but wanted to strongly emphasize his last point on the hotel damage.  This ridiculous and totally unncessary behavior threatens a laundry list of things:
  --as stated, future CEDA Nationals host sites (and NDT - since its at the same hotel next year)
  --future use of this hotel for high school events in the area 
  --future hotel use for ANY debate tournament in the Westin family of hotels - hotels do talk to one another, especially when they have particularly bad experiences with groups
  --willingness for people to take responsibility as either host or President - I know that dealing with hotel staff and security is the last thing I care to do during the national tournament - and being the point person for a group of disrespectful people, many of whom you don't even know is frustrating
  I guess I would just say that Rock Stars can party like Rock Stars in hotels because they make millions of dollars each year and can plunk down a credit card to cover damages.  CEDA doesn't - and it can't...and neither can any debate program in America.  
  I don't think there is anything we can do about frustrated hotel staff (noise calls, etc. all weekend), but I hope we can all try to do something about stopping property damage, rudeness and total disrespect at future tournaments - whether they be nationals or your local regional tournaments.

  I'll get off my soapbox now,

NEIL BERCH <berchnorto at msn.com> wrote:
  I hesitate to post, since this has nothing to do with the NDT scouting rule. 
These are just one person's observations from CEDA Nats. I'd like to hear 
what others think.

The Good:
A. The organization and hosting of the tournament was tremendous. Will 
Baker and the amazing tab room staff did a fantastic job. I'm not a big fan 
of the hotel-only model for CEDA Nats (though I was a much bigger fan on 
Sunday morning when I just had to roll out of bed and go to round 5 after 
the time change!), but that's simply a matter of taste. Everything that Tim 
Mahoney and his staff of volunteers did to implement that model was 
magnificent! I can't recall seeing a tournament host be more responsive and 
helpful. We all owe Tim a debt of gratitude.

B. The mix of top teams and novices makes this tournament unique. Having 
an Appalachian State novice team get to debate two teams that were in octas 
or beyond at the NDT (in rounds 6 and 8--this was no preset mismatch; they 
earned it!) was tremendous. I got to see that some of the critics who are 
among the most preferred by top teams are also great novice critics. My 
novices felt like they were part of the community. One of our novice teams 
to me after a round: "Who was that judge? The stuff he told us was really 
helpful. He taught us a lot; he didn't just tell us who won and why." Me: 
"Um, he's the head coach of the school that just won the NDT."

The bad: No comments on this right now other than it needs to get talked 
A. Only 2 of the top 20 speakers were women.
B. Only 3 of the 32 debaters who debated on Tuesday were women (I think; if 
I missed someone, I apologize).
C. While 27% of the judging pool was women, the percentage of women among 
the judges in each outround was:
Triples: 21%
Doubles: 13%
Octas: 10%
Quarters: 8%
Semis: 0%
What this means is that from doubles through at least quarters, men who were 
in the pool were 2 to 3 times more likely to be selected for a debate than 
women who were in the pool.
D. I believe only 1 of the 11 Regional Critics of the Year was a woman.

The ugly:
None of the above will matter if we can't find places to host tournaments. 
The people who continue to vandalize tournament hotels are endangering the 
ability to find hosts. Before anyone argues that it was just property 
damage and runs their capitalism K against this, let me say that most of 
what I learned about this came from the people who WORK at the Westin and 
had to clean up after you. While you were "solving" for capitalism in 
rounds, they were telling me on Tuesday morning that this was the 
worst-behaved group they'd seen in months (and they rightfully resented the 
extra work they had to do because of it). Nobody is saying not to have fun, 
but showing just a small modicum of responsibility is not too much to ask.

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University

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Sue Peterson
Director of Forensics
Pepperdine University

"Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought." 
--John F. Kennedy

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