[eDebate] And the Elephant In the Corner Is...

Dallas Perkins dperkins
Tue Apr 18 01:05:24 CDT 2006

I guess I have to dissent from some of the conclusions reached by Eber,
Ermo, Omar, et al.

I have no problem with making tournaments cheaper.  However, some of the
specific proposals come with significant baggage.

First, cheap hotels.  This is problematic.  Most of the cheap hotels
cannot accommodate elimination rounds.  Eber says to have elims on campus,
surely space can be found.  I beg to differ.  No such space exists at
Harvard or Texas or West Georgia.  The Norris Center at Northwestern might
accommodate 16 debates, I'm not sure.  Kentucky would be hopeless, ditto
Wake Forest.  Most of the places we go to tournaments would not be able to
operate without a hotel where elims could be held.

Perhaps we could go to different tournaments in cheaper places.  Frankly,
I'm not sure why people have chosen to attend the tournaments we
attend, but I do know that people complain incessantly about how boring
Carrollton, Georgia can be.  It is not perfectly clear that people are not
choosing where they travel precisely because they want to go to the big
city and see the bright lights.  With no disrespect to my friends in
Emporia, or Carrollton, or Waco, LA and Chicago and Atlanta and Boston are
a little more exciting.

I'm not sure we can really save a lot of money by moving to cheaper
hotels.  If Eber weren't leaving, he could prove me wrong by hosting a
really good tournament in Lansing at a Comfort Inn for $69 a night.

The other suggestions were about food.  I'm totally in agreement with what
Eric Morris says about banquets:  a total ripoff.  All I can add is this:
in a competitive hotel market, it is sometimes possible to extort lower
banquet prices by threatening to change hotels.  We have been quite
successful at that:  our college tournament party has cost us $20 a person
for the past several years, and is only going up a few dollars this year.
That seems affordable for what we get.  I agree that the really expensive
banquets some tournaments pay for are way excessive.

Matt suggests that tournaments eliminate amenities and cut fees to nearly
zero.  I admit that this used to be the norm.  However, the reason the
major tournaments made the transition had more to do with schedules than
with trying to eat better.  Once tournaments were paired quickly by
computer, it was unacceptable to let debaters wonder off to lunch on their

Here again, I have to agree with Ermo that places that provide catered
lunches at $20 a pop are out of control.  But most schools that host
tournaments manage to provide food that is pretty good and reasonably
cheap:  wraps, burritos, Chinese food, Thai food, all sorts of schemes get
pulled off pretty well.  This does mean that tournament fees are higher
than they used to be, but let's face it, people have to eat.  The belief
that squads could really feed all those people for less than what the
tournament fees are costing is, I feel, misguided.

I've always thought that eliminating or minimizing ground transportation
costs could be significant.  Tournaments can help a lot by moving evidence
for teams.  Cooperative arangements could help a lot:  on Sunday, the
second day, of our tournament last year, the shuttle buses didn't show up.
So, Casey Kelly and I went out in the parking lot and asked everybody with
a van to give rides to people without.  Everybody made it to the
tournament, without even taking cabs.


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