[eDebate] MPJ and Comments

Kris Willis kristopherwillis
Tue Nov 21 12:58:46 CST 2006

Since I have been gone for the last 3+ years (from debate) I have had a HUGE 
change of Heart on this issue. I do not support MPJ...Here is some of the 
nitty gritty quick points:

1. Bad training. I think debating infront of the same judges on a consistent 
basis does train you to debate to their style, but doesn't train you to 
adapt of people in society (the diversity of people) and trains you to be to 
specific and un-adaptable. When debaters graduate and go to work etc, they 
will work with a wide variety of people and personalities. Having debated 
for over ten years (most with no MPJ) I learned to adapt to judges and 
actually deal with the audience that I was given; not one I selected. Life 
doesn't work that way. You don't get to pick your boss clients etc. and not 
having the adaption skills that debate teaches will hurt you in the longrun. 
As educators, the education debate produces should be our greatest concern.

2. Balkanization. This activity is more balkinized than I can ever remember. 
MPJ cuts both ways. While some have been able to "maybe" develop alternative 
rhetorical styles as a result of MPJ they have also have inreased the 
division of the activity where some people (read judges) actually believe 
there is a war in debate. I believe this to be counter-productive and 
pointless (see next point).

3. Good debaters just WIN. Great debate teams have the skills to adapt to 
judges and win period. Josh Martin and I talked about this once and no 
matter the style, great debaters will win because they are the better debate 
team. Functionally MPJ doesn't serve them accept by making it easier to 
predict what style they will debate.
I believe MPJ only serves the middle of the road teams (low point 6-2 
through 4-4 teams). Teams below that mark need much more help and teams 
above that mark probably are the best at adapting period. So really all MPJ 
does is allow coaches and teams impact the mid-teams at a tournament. 
Granted, that can mean the difference between breaking but should judge 
rankings really be what determines that?

4. Politics. No not the DA, but the lack of our communities recognition that 
personal politics and "likes" for certain teams are having a huge impact on 
out activity. Earlier this year I heard someone passionately defend their 
ability to help coach another squads team at the NDT (in regards to limiting 
workers etc. at the NDT). My only thought was I certainly hope you are not 
judging this team during the year!! Objectivity may not exist in a pure 
sense, but MPJ blantly allows teams and judges to disregard it entirely and 
allows for more extreme bias in the round.

5. Under-represented judges. I think others have written eloquently 
regarding this one.

New alternative. I propose instead of MPJ, judges actually try and judge 
rounds with an open mind and honest interpretation/evaluation. Obviously 
predispositions exist and judging philosophies are important to know some of 
those positions and hence should still be encouraged. While this isn't 
perfect, I believe it is correct and we as judges/coaches should adhere to 
this kind of principle.

My 2-cents

Kris Willis

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