[eDebate] Novice/JV Nats

Jim Maritato james.maritato
Fri Mar 10 01:49:35 CST 2006

Sorry for ducking out of this conversation for a day, it's been a bit busy.

   Indeed, as my original e-mail indicated, we will gladly attend 
JV/Novice Nats at West Virginia next year.  The tournament was largely 
well run, organized and hospitable.  My concern has never been with 
whether or not WVU can competently and adequately host JV/Novice 
Nationals.  I think that this past weekend proves that they can beyond a 
shadow of a doubt. My concerns were more rooted in whether or not WVU 
was the BEST OPTION IN TERMS OF COMMUNITY GOALS.  I am emphasizing this 
phrase for a reason.  I feel that a large majority of what I had to say 
has been diverted into discussions of food and who could or couldn't 
find vegetarian options, or whether or not constructive criticism is 
warranted because the tournament was free.  Several of you have e-mailed 
voicing your concerns about the drive/flight from D3.  I want to thank 
everyone for opening up this discussion more - everyone's input is 
important.  Thank you all for being reflective and responsive.  I'll 
address these concerns briefly and then move on to what is probably at 
this point the more relevant discussion since it seems Towson has 
decided not to host for the 2007 season.

Travel:  It is quite possible that I am incorrect in some of my 
assumptions about travel for your squads and in no way would I want to 
exclude anyone from the tournament.  I'll concede that I've not been 
arranging travel as long as many of you have or factoring it into my 
budget in the same ways.  My arguments about travel are more rooted 
though in the ability for more squads to attend - not necessarily more 
teams from smaller numbers of squads.  I agree with many people about 
regional competition helping to build and foster novice debate.  That's 
great and I think we should continue to do it.  I don't think that these 
things are mutually exclusive. Solution:  Bring your BEST novice teams 
to nationals and take the masses to Regionals.  Nationals becomes an 
incentive to work harder.  It gives more legitimacy to the importance of 
debate for first-year debaters.  I still disagree with the (specifically 
Ken D.'s) argument that flying to Pittsburgh and then driving 75 miles 
is more cost economic than flying into another city (and for the sake of 
the context of this discussion, Baltimore).  A tournament held in 
Baltimore in a hotel with shuttle service would most likely be /cheaper 
/than flying to Pittsburgh, renting a vehicle and filling it with gas.  
Moreover, flying into larger cities often results in cheaper airfare 
because of increased competition between airlines.  This is why many of 
you feel Pittsburgh is a good option for flying, but a quick check on 
Orbitz indicates several options for flights "under $200," the 
brightline of affordability that Ken established in his claim.  But I 
digress, as this is largely a non-issue at this point.  I hope some 
folks will remember for 2008.

Free:  Yes, WVU's tournament was free.  It was also well run and well 
organized.  My comments about quality of life and how it could be 
increased have been turned into negative criticism of WVU's efforts 
successfully run a national tournament, which is not what they were 
intended to be.  So, for those of you backchanneling and responding with 
"FREE," I will concede to you only that the tournament was indeed free.  
Next year /it will not be free./  Just like Mead's nuclear war is not 
going to happen, a free tournament is not going to happen next year.  
Therefore, a discussion of how our entry fees will be spent is relevant 
and necessary.  Which brings me to my next point.

Quality of Life/Food/Vegetarians/Etc.:  I am not sure why this became 
the "eat at El Mariachi, shoulda known better" discussion or the Jimbo's 
a whiny vegetarian discussion (or the David L. Steinberg "directors have 
no obligation to feed anyone" discussion).  Moreover, I'm not 100% sure 
why this was the first issue people bothered to respond to, (especially 
when one considers my wholly more important arguments about community 
cross connect and other quality of life issues) but the issue of food 
was one that people seemed to like to talk about.  I dunno, maybe people 
are really hungry.  When Steinberg says directors have no obligation to 
provide meals, I say fine.  Just make sure you give me a tournament 
schedule that allows me to get my people to dinner and to bed before 
midnight and a solid list of establishments that are open late and that 
provide vegetarian options that are not vegetables on bread.  This 
should prevent my 
never-been-to-your-town-USA-because-I'm-a-first-year-director self from 
getting lost seeking the holy vegetarian grail that may or may not exist 
in your-town-USA at 11:00 PM. Put this back into the larger context of 
what I said about quality of life.  The longer I am out trying to find 
my debaters food, the later they eat.  The later they eat, the later 
they get to bed.  The later they get to bed, the less happy they are.  
The less happy they are the less they want to debate.  Go ahead and 
attack any one of those internal links.  When you are bringing new 
people into the activity - people who have not been eating, sleeping, 
and breathing debate for four years they are not acclimated to the 
intensity.  It can burn people out and I am sure we have all seen it 
happen.  This is where my "second dinner" argument came in.  I am 
appreciative that Neil and his squad sought to provide an option at the 
tournament for people of multiple lifestyles and ethics.  That doesn't 
mean that when we know our entry fees are going to be spent on these 
things that we can't talk about how those things could be better to 
increase to likelihood that people get to bed earlier, that they eat a 
more nutritious meal and aren't sick on the way home from the 
tournament.  Debate runs people down.  So why not find ways to make sure 
that we're all adequately "nutritioned?"  And if we're not going to do 
that at all, then why not open a discussion about making it easier for 
new programs and new directors who have never been to places that 
tournaments are held to better meet the needs of their debaters in those 
places?  Is this not in line with the developing of new programs that is 
talked about consistently in district and regional meetings?      I 
don't claim to know everything about running a debate tournament.  Hell, 
I've never run a debate tournament, but I've helped people run debate 
tournaments.  This summer my dad needed to plan a hockey tournament - 
the first the Suffolk County, NY PAL had ever hosted for junior high 
school students.  He called in the person he knew who knew the most 
about traveling and running tournaments.  So we got to planning out his 
tournament, and we thought of ways to make the tournament inclusive.  
There were teams traveling from all over the northeast so we knew we had 
to provide people with solid driving directions.  We thought of ways of 
making it easy.  We made up handouts with lists of local restaurants.  I 
google mapped the drive from the two arenas to areas where there were 
multiple food options.  We wrote up descriptions for things - especially 
things that were local.  We noted whether they took American Express.  
We made some phone calls.  People were very pleased.  One of the most 
common comments was that despite the need to drive 6-7 miles for food 
and that the two arenas used were 12 miles apart, the outline of where 
things were and the number of easily accessible options made the need to 
commute a non-issue. As an end note to this story, people are currently 
calling my dad clamoring for the "online entry form" for his 2nd annual 
tournament.  I will be done with it by the end of the night Dad, I promise.
   Now I know this is all anecdotal, but I think it points out a simple 
fact:  competition is intense at tournaments of all types - so if you 
can make the non-competitive aspects more accessible and enjoyable, 
people want to come back.  A multitude of options (and if there were in 
Morgantown, I am sorry to have missed out on them) and forethought on 
how to get to them are ways that we can start to make things easier and 
to make the transition into intense competition easier for novice and jv 
debaters.  I'll even go as far as to say that people are generally 
happier.  The fact is that these sorts of issues are going to continue 
to be a problem if we are facilitating the growth of new programs with 
new administrations that have not been to these tournaments before.    
The final note on this vegetarian issue for the meat eaters who don't 
give a damn out there:  Put yourself in the situation:  How frustrated 
are you when you go to a tournament run by some "crazy hippie" who 
thinks it's a good idea to serve nothing but vegan grub?  Are you 
thrilled that since round 5 ends at 10:00 PM you'll be taking your very 
hungry meat eaters out for a meal?      Onto my larger argument:

   I think that Beth raises some important points, and regardless of 
what CEDA/ADA/NDT/LMNOP/QRSTUV have to say about it I still think that 
discussing JV/Novice nats is important.  I believe if there are some of 
us out here who believe that we need to put a more national focus on JV 
and novice debate and wish to create a tournament that is more 
nationally representative we have to start to take the steps to make 
that tournament a reality NOW, not when any of these governing 
organizations get around to it.  This is not a potshot at any one within 
any of debate's various governing organizations.  What I am advocating 
though is that we begin to interrogate and reformulate some of our 
assumptions about what the "novice and jv national tournament" means.  
Yes, I am advocating a mindset change.  I was a K debater.  Shoot me.  
Moreover, if CEDA or NDT or ADA create a national tournament a "national 
tournament" is not necessarily what will follow.  If we aren't pushing 
novice debate at a national level, what makes anyone think that all of a 
sudden people will come rolling out in droves to another novice 
tournament simply because the holy trinity of CEDA, NDT and ADA say the 
tournament is national?  "And lo, there was novice and jv debate..."

   I know that I'm being a bit facetious as I'm apt to be, but I do 
think these are real concerns we have to have.  I think they contribute 
to how we promote and encourage novice and jv debate.  In district and 
regional meetings here in the east, I have heard directors commend 
others for reaching out to new schools and new communities of people 
through debate.  Accolades have been placed upon those who have helped 
new programs emerge and coalesce.  Why aren't we doing this in our 
strategic planning of tournaments?  Tuna says that there are many other 
tournaments and that he's got credibility because he's one of the 
driving forces behind UDLs.  I agree here that Tuna has credibility, but 
I would argue that there was not one tournament in the 2005-2006 CEDA 
East schedule that was strategically positioned to encourage connection 
with UDL and former UDL students (although I am aware that the NJUDL 
expressed interest in bringing teams to West Point as observers but were 
concerned as to what would happen if they rolled up to the gates). The 
NJUDL has expressed interest in attending more of our other tournaments 
as well.  For the 2007 season, the only tournament that is well placed 
for cross connect with an urban debate league and a large number of 
surrounding schools is the Baruch College tournament. A tournament in 
Baltimore or a similar larger city affords us the opportunity to reach 
out as a community of people with varying mindsets and arguments from a 
larger variety of regions and social locations to a much larger number 
of area schools than most of the tournaments Tuna talks about.   That is 
of course, if we assume that tournaments like West Point which require a 
drive from the neighboring UDL (which they are more then willing to 
make!) are the same tournaments Tuna is talking about as its not 
entirely clear from the CEDA East schedule.  Folks are saying to bring 
the novice and jv tournament to places where there is novice and jv 
debate.  I agree with you all - and you can point to Gordie and Jackie's 
arguments here too - there is a large contribution of novice and jv 
debate going on in the northeast.  I do not seek to marginalize or shut 
out D3 teams.  I seek to find the place to host the tournament that 
makes sense to including the largest number of schools as possible as 
well as locating other strategies to increase the ability for as many 
people to attend as possible. People are posting saying "WE MADE A 22 
HOUR DRIVE AND WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!"  That's awesome commitment, 
and I applaud you!  That smashes my 17 hours for other tournaments I've 
driven to from Wyoming - much respect.  But don't you think maybe we 
should be working towards finding ways of affordably traveling to 
tournaments so that you DON'T have to drive 22 hours?  Doesn't that mean 
finding ways to fly more affordably when possible?  (And here is where I 
feel leadership would be appropriate - how about someone who is way 
smarter than me looking into a fund that teams with excess at the end of 
the year could donate to or something - then we could help some of these 
teams who have to drive across the better part of everywhere to meet up 
in places where diverse novice and jv pools exist.)
      I also believe that we should not only be bringing debate to 
places where novice/jv debate exists, but we should also be bringing it 
to places where it COULD exist.  This is why I think Baltimore would be 
an excellent option.  The number of schools in the Baltimore area is 
STAGGERING and adequate promotion and social networking with interested 
parties and former high school debaters at these institutions affords 
the opportunity for those who used to debate to reconnect and see what 
college debate could be like for them.  It also allows them to bring 
their friends who have never seen debate before.  It allows the 
interested professor at those institutions to check out a national 
debate tournament in their town on a saturday afternoon.  No budgetary 
requests, no allocation of travel funds, no bureaucracy.  No headaches.  
Easy access.  This cross connect of communities and potential 
communities argument has been almost completely unaddressed in this 
discussion, other than to say "there are other tournaments" or "regional 
tournaments are good."  Other tournaments are not mutually exclusive.  
Regional tournaments (and that's really what we're talking about is big 
invitational regional tournaments with a few out of region teams that 
call themselves nationals) can still occur and have legitimacy.  
Conferences, perhaps, can exist to enhance that legitimacy.But when I 
hear that my novice debaters are eighth and ninth best novice speaker in 
the nation at awards, I want to know that claim is legitimate.  I want 
them to know that claim is legitimate.  Several people are claiming 
"multiple national tournaments good" and I'm not really sure what the 
warrant is other then, "regional tournaments build novice debate."  I 
agree, they do.  But does having debaters thinking that nationals isn't 
really nationals and that debate isn't really seriously competitive 
because there are 5 national champions really foster competitive and 
accessible novice and jv debate?  Novice/JV debate should not be like 
the WWE.  It should not have 5 championships that are only recognized by 
small parties.  When applying to law school, one should be able to write 
on their vitae "i won novice nationals" and know that they did.

If you've read this far I appreciate it.  I know it's a busy week of 
midterm grading and taking for many of us.  Regardless of what is worked 
out by Monday, we will attend the novice/jv something tournament happily 
and eager to attend and please in anyway possible.  I like debate, a 
lot.  I know that sounds simplistic but I wouldn't write an e-mail this 
long if I didn't like debate and think it was important.  I also care 
about bigger goals though and I think that as a community we should try 
to address what common goals the community has.  So take my ideas for 
what they are - ideas.  I don't know all that much about debate - I'm 
still pretty new at this.  But I do think we can better address how we 
think about these issues and how we plan our activities to achieve 
strategic goals.

Sorry for those of you who feel you've been "barraged" with complaints 
about a free tournament like Josh Hoe.  As I've stated over and over 
again, this is not a discussion about the tournament that went on this 
past weekend.  It is a discussion about what we do in the future.  
Regardless, thanks to all of you for reading all I've had to say.


> Dave--Thanks to you (and others) for your support.  I believe that we 
> will have this worked out amicably by Monday (Beth may even give me 
> the phone number of the pottery vendor).  One clarification:  Jimbo 
> indicated that Marist will attend next year, even if the tournament is 
> at WVU.--Neil
>     ----- Original Message -----
>     *From:* Steinberg, David L <mailto:dave at miami.edu>
>     *To:* edebate at ndtceda.com <mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com>
>     *Sent:* Thursday, March 09, 2006 12:59 PM
>     *Subject:* [eDebate] Novice/JV Nats
>     -->
>     I do not believe that there is a problem regarding JV/Novice Nats. 
>     Except perhaps that Neil Berch is just too nice, accommodating,
>     open and (perhaps) too sensitive.  "We" didn't host a tournament:
>     Neil and WVU did.  I hope that WVU will continue to host (although
>     I certainly could not blame Neil for choosing not to).  Our
>     program loved the WVU experience.  It is a terrific location, a
>     beautiful campus, and easy to travel to.  WVU, if you hold it, WE
>     will come.  Probably, Marist will not.  That is their choice. 
>     Choice is good.
>     There are lots of great tournament options for folks.  That is a
>     good thing!  What is the disadvantage to having multiple options
>     for regional and national travel with a title of National
>     Champion?  More people benefit.
>     As for CEDA Leadership, it comes from everyone.  If Joe or Beth or
>     anyone else wishes to propose changes in CEDA Constitution or
>     Bylaws, they should.  Then we can debate the merits of their
>     specific proposals.  That is how change occurs, not because one of
>     the elected officers makes it so.
>     I would strongly oppose CEDA adding another national tournament to
>     administer (at least before my term ends...)
>     I think I would also be opposed to identifying ONE tournament as
>     the "ONE TRUE  Novice or JV or Honorary or Other Nationals"
>     (although having seen Zompetti's latest post, I would keep an open
>     mind to this.)  However, I do not think we should be in the
>     business of telling people what they can call their tournaments,
>     and this tournament became Novice Nationals at Towson because
>     Brenda Logue called it that.  Then Towson elected not to hold it,
>     and Georgetown held a tournament and called it Novice/JV
>     Nationals.  Then they elected not to hold it and WVU decided to
>     host a tournament called Novice/JV Nationals.  Now Sacramento
>     State is holding a tournament they call the Western Nationals, or
>     something like that.  Lets see how that succeeds and grows.  And
>     of course, the NJDDT has been a great event for years.  Maybe it
>     is time for Tuna to host the World Debate Championships!
>     I DO support anything which would promote the growth of novice
>     debate.  I am just not convinced that one big tournament at the
>     end of the year can really have a significant positive impact on
>     this.   In fact, I think it is regional support and commitment
>     that is more likely to grow the division than the national tournament.
>     Now, some of the objections I read to Neil's tournament were to
>     me, quite frankly, Outrageous!  Round 3 was 45 minutes behind?  It
>     would be better to be on time, but that's not that bad!   It is
>     hard to travel to?  For us, it is easier than most of the places
>     we go to, and we have to fly almost everywhere we go.  Hard to get
>     around campus?  Ever been to the Church School Building or the
>     dorm rooms at Emory or the basement of the Gym at Wake Forest, or
>     Rochester in the snow?  That building at Pepperdine where they
>     shuttle you up the hill?  Great locations often have their costs.
>     I reject the notion that a tournament director has a
>     responsibility to meet the needs of all participants (beyond some
>     things like physical accessibility as per the ADA) or to provide
>     food at all, much less a certain style of food.  If as a courtesy
>     they can, that is great, but it is a luxury, not a necessity.  And
>     I certainly do not think the director is responsible for food
>     options on the highway between your campus and mine, or in my
>     community.  Of course we should embrace diversity, but we should
>     also be adaptable. 
>     Rick Nelson said "you can't please everyone, so you better please
>     yourself.   And Mick said "you can't always get what you want, but
>     if you try sometimes, you get what you need...."  Or something
>     like that...
>     Neil, I echo Justin's plea: bring us back to Morgantown.  Thanks!
>     Also, I do not mean this as a knock on Towson in any way: they ran
>     a great tournament and are an excellent location.  I wish we could
>     travel to both WVU AND Towson during the year.
>     Dave
>     David L. Steinberg
>     Director of Debate, University of Miami
>     P.O. Box 248127
>     Coral Gables, Florida   33124
>     305-284-5553 (office)
>     dave at miami.edu
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