[eDebate] 5 Concrete Suggestions to Improve Centralized Scouting at the National Debate Tournament

Michael Antonucci antonucci23
Tue May 9 02:58:00 CDT 2006

I can't speak to any major rule changes; those are all
out of my league.  Here are five concrete changes that
might improve the scouting system.

1. Codify volunteerism.  Many people outside the
system helped out.  Judges will obviously focus on
judging, as they should, but their flows are much
better than nothing if we're short-staffed. 
Unfortunately, the process of identifying volunteers
consumes precious time.  It would be far less chaotic
if community-minded judges who flow on a computer
identified themselves ahead of time.  That way, scouts
who are forced to double up could quickly transfer
volunteer flows to a jump drive without an awkward and
inefficient negotiation.  In an ideal world, there
would be a version of the pairing that italicized the
names of potential volunteer judges.

2. *Codify accountability.*  Everyone has clearly
identified the problem.  Some scouts drop out of the
system entirely.  Everyone agrees that this renders
the system dysfunctional.  Moral suasion doesn't work
at that point, and sometimes directors just don't
care.  I spend more than enough time telling 17 year
olds what to do - I'm not eager to browbeat 19 year
olds, or their coaches.  I think there should be
financial penalties.  Maybe that's a regressive flat
tax, but that's how all the other administrative
penalties get resolved.  Why not treat a no-show scout
as seriously as a no-show judge?

If the Lupo amendment remains in place, we would
probably have an adequate staff.  (I define "adequate"
as one scout per debate.)  If scouting assignments
were included on the pairing and the presence of the
assigned scout was a NECESSARY condition for starting
the debate, I feel pretty confident that social
pressure would make the whole system run well.

3. Resolve the high school student issue.  Committed
high school debaters make great scouts.  I think the
high school students who contributed this year were
doubleplusgood outstanding.  I liked Michigan's
arrangement.  They brought a high school recruit as
part of their entourage, their recruit did a great
job, and no one had to worry about him, because
presumably Michigan assumed responsibility for his
actions.  That's kosher, right?  If so, can more
people do that?  It seems to work.

4. Give scouts tournament staff shirts.  I like the
idea of badges, but I think that people will take them
off because they're a little bit dorky.  A tournament
shirt, however, is both authoritative and relatively
stylish (emphasis on relatively.)

5. Don't shoot the messenger.  I had to engage in a
few unusually awkward conversations with people who
really wanted to air their abstract critique of the
scouting system.  These rhetorical tactics are about
as well-advised as running after your garbageperson to
complain about municipal sanitation policies.  If I do
that again, remember that I'm just pressing a couple
of buttons, folks.

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