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

Morris, Eric R EricMorris
Tue Apr 18 01:49:06 CDT 2006

To clarify:

1. Tournament meals provided at reasonable cost are a good idea. Keeping
things running quickly makes the days more humane. Even a couple more
bucks per person for nicer food is probably reasonable. Many banquets
are not.

2. Moving in the direction of free entries, etc., makes sense to a
point. However, someone is always paying if expenses are incurred. Thus,
reasonable expenses which benefit everyone seem like a good idea. I
appreciate a tournament willing to internalize the costs to offer free
competition, but I don't feel entitled to such a generous offer. And,
depending on its location, travel costs can easily overwhelm entry fees.

3. Of course, the real elephant may be that the travel schedule adopted
by the top teams functions to constrain market forces to a great degree.
Anyone who opts out of various national tournaments - including said top
teams - penalizes their own teams with little empirical success in
creating a movement to a reasonable alternative. Considering the
resistance to the Bruschke Amendment a year ago (a reasonable, though
small, 1st step toward a more balanced schedule), it seems that even
non-market solutions may fail. If that's the case then my target
audience is probably limited to those fortunate enough to host the major
national tournaments. Thus,

4. I hope the directors fortunate enough to host major tournaments
closely monitor expenses and consider alternatives that would diminish
the cost (total cost including hotel fees, not just entry fees), even if
the "prestige" goes down a bit as well. When I see debaters dress and
act, I do not view us as the type likely to be offended because we're
staying at a "lesser" chain instead of the Starwood system. I mean that
in a very positive way. I stay at hotels during tournaments that I would
never select as a private individual spending my own money. 
Given Harvard's legendary size constraints, I don't assume there are
easy alternatives on campus. Each tournament's situation is obviously
different, and I'm speaking more to a gestalt experience than singling
out any tournament. In fact, I rarely have more than anecdotal
information about particular tournament budgets and expenses. I would
not expect someone to kill their tournament if there was no other option
but the expensive hotel with the elim rooms. But, if a minor downgrade
in the star rating of a hotel enables people to attend the tournament,
then, as a tournament attendee, it is a sacrifice I would like to make.
Perhaps other attendees feel the same way?

Eric Morris

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