[eDebate] A different kind of elephant

Jim Hanson hansonjb
Tue Apr 18 12:28:40 CDT 2006

what gary says below is right. unfortunately, i'm not sure what we can do
about it. the "solutions" have drawbacks that the community, including me,
would oppose. and, frankly, that is the problem with these kinds of issues.
enough people like aspects of things as they are that they aren't willing to
change (see hotel thread, see tournament fees thread, see . . .). so, yea,
i'm part of the problem but i do offer a suggestion below. of course, enough
people will oppose my suggestion and enough will, i'm guessing, oppose other
"solutions" or "ideas," so nothing will really be done even though i'm also
guessing virtually everyone responded to gary's message by saying, at least
in part, "yea, days are really long at these tournaments." and, so we will
continue doing what we do with its costs intact.

--ending oral decisions would undermine that educational and very popular
aspect (written ballots just do not replace oral decisions)--and i'm not
sure that is an even large part of the problem, since, after the last ballot
is in, 5+ minutes later, the pairing is out and the teams start moving to
their next round so the oral decision is truncated in those late rounds
anyway. (gary just pointed this out as i was writing this)

--returning to 8-3-5-8 prep. let's see the groundswell of support for that.
:) i remember being at the ceda exec meeting where we voted to switch to
9-3-6-10 and there were multiple promises that we could just make things
more efficient and thereby not increase the length of the day. yea. that
move, while having its rationale, means an extra 48 minutes a day with a 4
round tournament.

--having 6 round tournaments. that can be good--but not for ceda nats, the
ndt, nor mega tournaments with 100+ teams. you need to sort teams out with
powermatching and make the long day of travel worth it to go to that

--i will throw in my semi-annual comment on this subject: start days later.
i can handle 13-14 hour days. i cannot handle 13-14 hour days with the
massive switch in timing i undergo at national tournaments. i'm not
alone--though like i said above . . .

anyway, why do we have pairings at 7am (and even earlier)? for those of us
from the west--that is 4 or 5am our time at east coast/midwest tournaments.
we are then expected to handle these 13 to 14 hour days. it is very, very
tough. what students are regularly up at 6am anyway? what students are
regularly up at 4am? are most coaches up at these hours normally? why do we
do this to ourselves? wouldn't a schedule starting at 10am--even though
ending nearer to midnight each day--with food available be much better
attuned to our normal sleeping schedules? (and if food is your issue, let's
be honest--getting food after the last round of the day with the current
schedules is already pretty much confined to pizza or fast food anyway)

i know i am talking into the wind--i couldn't even get a rule for ceda nats
that pairings wouldn't be released before 7am/8am passed (it ended in a
tie). but, i'm saying it again because i believe it.

jim :)
hansonjb at whitman.edu
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Gary Larson" <Gary.N.Larson at wheaton.edu>
To: <edebate at ndtceda.com>
Sent: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 9:29 AM
Subject: [eDebate] A different kind of elephant

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 the receipt of the last ballot to the release of the next
round pairing, the 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

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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