[eDebate] Colorado College Tournament: policy debate significance and a word of thanks

matt stannard stannardmatt
Tue Oct 31 14:58:05 CST 2006

Every year, The Colorado College hosts one of the largest parliamentary 
tournaments in the nation, and also offers a division of NDT/CEDA debate.  
For the past seven years, the numbers in that division have never exceeded 
twelve teams.  This year there were seven: Wyoming (Travis Beach and Caleb 
Schmerge) beat Denver (Marie Marinelli and Kirby Bywaters) in partial sems; 
Denver (Justin Eckstein and Tyler Warner) beat Wyoming in finals.  Eastern 
New Mexico showed up with two novice teams--the future of their program, 
thanks to the hard work of Paul Leader.  But only seven teams in the 
division, so who cares?

The NDT/CEDA debate community IS in crisis, but that crisis is not shrinking 
numbers of teams.  There are lots of teams.  Instead, the crisis is the 
concentration of tournaments into a couple of small geographic areas, 
accessible to the rest of the country only at great expense, where open 
divisions number between 120 and 160 teams or more, where 5-3 doesn't get 
you into elims even though winning five debates at some of these tournaments 
involves hundreds of hours of work and a lot of luck and the enthymematic 
political endorsement of the judging community (read: reputation), where 
frosh and unknown teams are thrown to the wolves in order to make bigger and 
bigger divisions, when most of these tournaments could actually be split in 
two, with extremely competitive 60+ team divisions occurring in a wider 
diversity of geographical areas to afford travel opportunities to more 

[NPDA/NPTE shouldn't get too smug about all this, by the way, since there is 
every possibility it will evolve in a similar fashion.]

The area known roughly as District 9/Rocky Mountain contains many ambitious 
and hardworking young teams as well as older and more experienced 
teams--three of those teams were in outrounds at Harvard (Wyo, ISU) and 
Wayne (Weber) this weekend--but it costs more money than any of us have to 
take all six or seven teams on our squads to tournaments on the other side 
of the country.  Thankfully, Colorado College gives teams from Wyoming, 
Colorado and New Mexico (and a few other surrounding states) the opportunity 
to debate a few hours away, when the alternative would be not to debate at 

The CC coaching staff and administration has no personal interest in making 
this opportunity available, and undoubtably suffers a bit of eyebrow-raising 
on the part of parli purists for doing so.  They never ask us, Why NDT/CEDA? 
  They go out of their way to provide extra judges with NDT/CEDA 
backgrounds, to adjust their schedule to the longer times of our debates, 
and to listen to suggestions for how they can keep efficiently providing the 
division in the future.  Instead of mocking us and saying we're everything 
that's wrong with debate, they support us and give us a place to debate that 
is cheap and accessible.  Instead of saying seven teams wasn't enough to 
justify the effort to keep a division, they'd have run the tournament, if 
we'd wanted them to, with even fewer teams.

So thanks, Chris Shaw and Colorado College, not only for hosting such a 
fantastic and well-run parli tournament, but for hosting an NDT/CEDA 
division for the benefit of teams and coaches who desperately need more 
regional debate opportunities.  Lots of frosh, lots of novices, and lots of 
resource-challenged debaters would have lost out without your gesture.  We 
appreciate it.

Matt Stannard
Wyoming Speech and Debate Union
CEDA Rocky Mountain Representative

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