[eDebate] A different kind of elephant

Greg Thomas greg.thomas
Tue Apr 18 11:43:35 CDT 2006

How about not announcing decisions after rounds and thus eliminating
almost all of the post-round critique?  A few comments maybe, but a
well written out ballet can be just as helpful (and even more so since
it is not read by the competitors in the heat of the moment) and would
really speed things along by avoiding the post debate (and post
decision) debate that has become so popular.

On 4/18/06, Gary Larson <Gary.N.Larson at wheaton.edu> wrote:
the receipt of the last ballot to the release of the next
> round pairing, t> While we're talking about elephants, let me identify another one that
> adds immensely to the costs in both financial and human terms.
> Every part of the tournament debating experience from pre-round
> preparation, in-round speaking and preparation, post-round
> decision-making and disclosure to all-night online research has
> inexorably increased over the years.  Once upon a time, tabroom
> activities were the biggest cause of tournament length, often leading to
> pervasive lagged-paired rounds.  But even though those tab activities
> have been radically shortened so that at CEDA Nats we only take about 5
> minutes from he overall length of the day continues to increase.
> At the NDT it takes us four full days to complete 13 rounds.  At CEDA
> it takes 4 very long days to complete 15 rounds.  At most national
> circuit tournaments it takes 3 unbelievably long days to complete 12 or
> 13 rounds.  Each of those days are so long that travel almost
> necessarily consumes a full day on either side.
> While the time limits haven't been increased for years, everything
> still takes longer.  At CEDA we identified 2:45 from the announced start
> time as the drop dead coin-flipping point for a decision.  Just a couple
> of years ago we expected all decisions within 2:30.  But even with 2:45
> we bumped up against or exceeded it almost every round.  So where did
> the time go?  With a continuously running clock a debate should consume
> 92 minutes (yeah right).  At the beginning of the round, perceived
> coaching demands delay the start time with delays inevitably cascading
> through the tournament.  In-round activities also keep getting longer.
> As a tabroom person who has to predict when ballots will start coming
> in, it's remarkable that 2:00 after the announced start time, the doors
> start opening and rounds start ending.  And then once the round ends,
> it's almost a badge of honor to be the judge that deliberates for
> 30-45-60 minutes on the decision in an important round.  And once the
> clock starts slipping from scheduled times, the delays often start
> multiplying.  Once pairings get released, teams now have a pretty strong
> expectation that they should have at least 45 minutes and preferably an
> hour to prepare for the next debate when once we thought we were hitting
> the mark with 30 minutes.
> On the last day at CEDA Nats, it was not that long ago that we believed
> that the final round could confidently be scheduled between 6 and 7 PM.
> This year's final round decision came well after midnight.
> So days routinely last 13-14 hours for four debate rounds.  And that's
> without formal breaks for any meals so squads are still finding
> restaurants that will serve at 10:00 PM.  Once teams are back in the
> hotel rooms, the day has only begun for some of our coaches and
> card-cutters.
> It's one thing to say that tournaments should be careful about fees,
> food and hotel costs.  I agree that they should.  But the five-day
> gauntlet is the principal source of financial cost, not to mention the
> enormous human toll that it takes on all of our participants.
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