[eDebate] Novice/JV Nats

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Fri Mar 10 07:51:33 CST 2006

Quick response to Jimbo (mostly factual stuff):
# of programs (and teams) attending (from count on Bruschke page or, for 2004, results reported on edebate by Beth; lists are separated by division, so I may be off by 1 or 2):
2006--WVU:  35  (116 teams)
2005--Georgetown:  35 (114 teams)
2004--Towson:  23  (66 teams)
2003--Towson:  34 (91 teams; many more California schools, fewer Midwest schools).

Two other things:
1.  If we host again, your entry fees will pay for pottery awards and the hotel meeting space that's necessary to have a 3-day tournament (and avoid the ugly Friday night situation we had).  Not sure that we won't pay for all the food out of team and/or University funds (still to be negotiated with administrators).
2.  Jimbo is 100% right about the fact that we should have had a restaurant guide.

More on Monday.--Neil
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jim Maritato<mailto:james.maritato at gmail.com> 
  To: NEIL BERCH<mailto:berchnorto at msn.com> ; edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 2:49 AM
  Subject: Re: [eDebate] Novice/JV Nats

  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. 


  NEIL BERCH wrote: 
    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.




      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<mailto:dave at miami.edu>


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