[eDebate] The Mission Impossible Role of the Topic Committee

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Mon May 29 09:34:03 CDT 2006

Two quick thoughts:
1.  I hope that Ede's point about evaluating what we do doesn't get overlooked in the topic discussion.  I know I have overlooked that more than I should with regard to the WVU program.  I was on the committee that voted on the Public Debate Award this year, and one of the things that was most impressive about Louisville's application was that it included systematic feedback from people who attended public debates (and not necessarily only positive feedback).  We need to do more of this to solve other issues in the debate community.
2.  According to the Bruschke page, the negative won more rounds than it lost in prelims over the course of the year in all three debate divisions.  Neg won 50.4% in Open, 54.0% in JV, and 52.5% in Novice.

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Pacedebate at aol.com<mailto:Pacedebate at aol.com> 
  To: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Monday, May 29, 2006 3:43 AM
  Subject: Re: [eDebate] The Mission Impossible Role of the Topic Committee

  In a message dated 5/29/2006 12:35:12 A.M. Central Daylight Time, ewarner at louisville.edu<mailto:ewarner at louisville.edu> writes:
    I write this because I fear than many of the justifications for what the committee considers "best" these days is subjective to me and flies in the face of a lot of history.  I won't make arguments that the way we write topics has lead to the downfall of debate, because that is overly, overly simplistic.  But I will say, that as we get further entrenched in a debate belief that attempts to create absolute certainty as the standard for a good topic, I would hope that the community is willing to stay introspective and test that premise against our own historical evidence to the contrary.
  Until very recently I was a very firm believer in a strong limit on affirmative flexibility. To me the historical evidence was a very strong bias for the aff as evidenced by coin flips in out rounds. Win the flip and pick aff. The success of that approach was also backed by the winning percentage of the aff. Those trends have both changed. I suspect the side bias is neg and certainly the winners of the flip are often picking negative. However, I don't think that means we should unleash the aff. I think sanctions was the best topic I ever coached on and I think the aff would be ok even in the world of the floating pic with that resolution. Ede is correct that asking the topic committee to recreate that type of resolution is a high standard I think they are up to it.


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