[eDebate] Novice - JV eligibility

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Sun Dec 2 10:16:36 CST 2007

Leaving aside the obvious current dispute between Mr. Stanley and Kansas State over this weekend's JV division at John Carroll, I want to reiterate a more general point.  When we take a group of debaters with a range of experience that goes (literally) from never having seen a debate round to Copeland Award winners and try to divide it into three categories, there are inevitably going to be some very large disparities in ability and skill within categories.  Again, think of it as having MPJ with just three categories.  No matter how many judges you have to put in each of the categories, inevitably at least one category (and perhaps all three) is going to contain judges you like MUCH better than other judges in the same category.

As we move the eligibility boundaries around, we may reduce one set of inequities but replace it with another.  In doing so, I tend to think that we should protect the least experienced set of debaters the most (by having the narrowest definition of novice).  The effect of that, however, is to widen the range of experience in JV, and there are costs associated with that.  If we then narrow JV eligibility some more, then that produces inequities in Open.  The bottom line is that, with three categories, someone is always going to be disadvantaged.  My preference is that it NOT be the people with the least experience (who are probably the most likely to leave the activity).  Others may disagree.

What it comes down to (as Jackie said at the start of this discussion) is ethics.  More specifically, it is about doing what is best for the students, both yours and other people's students.  I tend to err (very strongly) on the "move them up for the experience" side.  Part of my job as an educator and coach is then to convince my students that going 1-5 in a division above their experience is a good experience.  My students tend to react well (and with pride when they score the occasional upset).  Maybe it's because Mountaineers are resilient (even after last night!).  Or maybe it's because I have tenure.  

One thing that would make it easier would be if there were a critical mass of "moved up" debaters, who might very well end up meeting each other in later rounds.  Thus, you'd get several challenging rounds followed by a couple of winnable rounds.

Just some thoughts.  Not sure what the grand solution is in terms of rules, unless we want to go to nine-category eligibility requirements!!

--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: J Stan<mailto:jstan1979 at gmail.com> 
  To: Sarah Snider<mailto:sjsnider at ksu.edu> ; edebate at www.ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at www.ndtceda.com> 
  Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 9:57 AM
  Subject: Re: [eDebate] Novice - JV eligibility

  I don't really see why this needs to be legislated, But I do have some general ideas of norms that might be thought about....

  If you have a debater who broke at an Open tournament then they probably don't need to be debating in JV.
  If your JV team won their first JV tournament of their college career and then debated in open the rest of the year, you probably don't need to take them in JV at a regional tournament at the end of the first semester of their second year after they have debated in Open all of the first semester. 
  If you think you have a chance to qualify to the NDT through districts then maybe you shouldn't be going in JV
  If you look at the entries and realize that your teams may be significantly better than all of the other entries in JV then maybe you should not put them in JV
  If you have a team that won a speaker award at  CEDA then they should not be in JV
  If a team won the NDT the previous year then they should not be in JV
  If an individual was a top ten speaker at Wake Forest they should not be in JV

  Obvisously, the last two are true but sarcastic.  I say people should have some common sense and try and do what is best for the activity and everyone involved in the activity, not just what may be best for your CEDA points.   I  understand CEDA points and doing what you have to do to get funding for your team.  However, this is true for everyone.  By one school making these decisions for purposes of winning sweepstakes you practically guarantee that "legitimate" JV debaters don't earn any points and thus schools who put those students in what I believe to be the appropriate division don't get points, don't get awards, and thus have to go back to their administration with the argument.....We would of won, but our kids have 30 rounds of experience and some schools put students in JV with 150 rounds of experience so we lost, Sorry.  And, oh by the way, half our squad wants to quit because they just had one of the least enjoyable experiences of their life. 

  Finally, how about the argument that it hurts the development of your debaters who have high aspirations and hurts the development of relatively new debaters who just enjoy debating in competitive, enjoyable rounds for educational purposes.  


  On 12/2/07, Sarah Snider <sjsnider at ksu.edu<mailto:sjsnider at ksu.edu>> wrote: 

    We have entered 3 jv teams composed of 
    3 Frosh
    2 Sophomores
    1 senior who joined the debate team last year and competed primarily in JV and barely cleared at one small regional tournament in open this fall. 

    our debaters only debate in the fall in Kansas- this means they come in with HALF as much experience as debaters from at least 45 other states. 

    none of the teams we have entered here have cleared at a national tournament- our top team went 2-6 at Harvard- and half of this team is competing here. 

    UNI and KCK are not national tournaments. One of our debaters did clear at UNLV. 

    Restricting our JV debaters from participating by changing the rules would force tons of debaters who are not ready to move to Varsity. The kind of rule change you suggest requires debaters with 2 years HS debate experience, less than 3 final rounds, and less than 2 years college experience to move to varsity. There are some debaters for whom, this would be devastating. 

    John Bretthauer JUDGED our JV team during the 2005-2006 season and then DEBATED the SAME TEAM in JV the next season. Obviously this is an issue we have with the Chief and not with you and pointing out another wrong doesn't make it right- but, our actions this weekend are FAR more legitimate than the majority of eligibility indiscretions one would normally encounter in the average season. 

    Binghamton received over 35 CEDA points for placing the 14th speaker at CEDA Nats in JV at the opening tournament of the season against real JV debaters........How are we supposed to come even close to them in the sweepstakes race? 

    I understand your frustration, I totally do. But our debaters are far from ineligible in JV. 


    On Dec 2, 2007 12:16 AM, J Stan < jstan1979 at gmail.com<mailto:jstan1979 at gmail.com>> wrote:

      My post sought an answer to why, "Most of have had a team for one reason or another dominate a division and could debate up"  The reason they dominate a division is because they should be debating up.  If they should be debating up then why are they dominating a division that they should not be in. I am not referring to any team who simply goes 6 - 0 at a tournament.  That is going to happen.  I am referring to a team who has broken at multiple national tournaments in open and makes a choice to debate down in JV division at a regional tournament.  Bid teams being excluded from regional tournaments is both unnecessary and irrelevant.  Bid teams don't usually debate at regional tournaments and if I had a team who had three years of experience in college and thus out of JV eligibility I would hope they could feel comfortable in a majority of rounds in open because they would not hit a bid team in a majority of rounds. I think if given three years I could coach a team to feel comfortable in the open division at regional tournaments.  They may not win those tournaments but they will feel comfortable in most of the rounds they compete.   However, my team with a little over one year of experience in their life hitting a team in JV who has open outround appearences at National tournaments makes little sense to me. 

      Second, I don't think fairness can be imposed through legislation, although I think legislation it is probably needed, but won't really solve all of the problem, just some of it.

      What is needed is people to just stop putting people in these divisions or give me a reason that I haven't thought of why it is being done so I can learn what it is that I am missing. I am sure there is a reason that I haven't thought of yet. 


      On 12/1/07, Andy Ellis <andy.edebate at gmail.com <mailto:andy.edebate at gmail.com>> wrote: 
        I think the problem with all of these discussions is that they assume fairness can be improved through such legislation, but there are always people who dont fall into a catagory convieniently, we have all had novices or varsity debaters who are out of lower divison eligibility but would seriously benefit, and most have us have had a team who for one reason or another dominates a division and could debate up, but i guess part of me asks why the same standard doesnt apply to open? Is the purpose always to win the ndt? Should bid teams be excluded from regional tournaments? 

        On Dec 2, 2007 12:23 AM, J Stan <jstan1979 at gmail.com<mailto:jstan1979 at gmail.com>> wrote: 

          I have followed the discussion on the Novice eligibility.  I think one issue that has not been discussed is whether a similar problem is occurring in JV.  Not specifically LD debaters, but individuals with significant experience who are being put into JV for reasons that I cannot possibly understand. I always felt that the reason individuals should be put in JV was because those individuals needed some more experience before they could be successful competing in Open.  I determine success as being able to compete for a win and feeling comfortable in a majority of the rounds they will be debating.  

          I am sure there are other reasons people have for putting individuals in JV that I feel are less compelling.  The obvious reason is CEDA points.  If a team needs CEDA points to justify their programs to their administration then a decision to put an individual in JV makes some sense. Building an individual's self-confident might make some sense in certain limited situation.  Other than that, I really don't know why you would opt for putting an individual in JV who clearly would feel comfortable in Open. 

          Recently I noticed that this is be a problem.  At John Carroll Teams are in JV who have competed in Open at tournaments for one and a half years.  These teams have advanced to a final round at regional open tournaments. They have gone to National tournaments and broken in open.  I noticed one team who had students who had over 100 rounds in college debate (and countless rounds in high school) still competing in JV.  Individuals who have over 100 rounds in Open all of sudden feel compelled to enter a JV tournament simply because the rules still provide them eligibility. 

          I have several problems with this.  First, it probably limits the development of the individuals if they are in rounds where they are simply beating teams with significantly less experience. Only Directors and debaters know what is best for their development, but it makes sense to me that you wouldn't want to do this if you have long term aspirations for competing at a high level.  Second, it practically guarantees that students who are competing in JV who do not have this level of experience do not feel comfortable or get discouraged by what is happening to them in rounds.  These students might be able to move down to novice, but then they would be the ones dominating a bracket that they probably shouldn't be in and then novice debate would be damaged.  When I have students with 40 rounds of experience in their life who are competing against individuals with 150 rounds of college debate and 3 years of high school experience and I have to look at my debaters face after what has happened to them in a JV round I get frustrated.  When I have to explain to them that they probably shouldn't be in novice because they would win too easily and that wouldn't be fair for individuals just starting out then I get frustrated.  Third, it makes all this discussion about high school LD irrelevant.  Pass a rule that forces them to debate in JV and they will move to that division and get killed there first half dozen tournaments and they will leave.  Novice tournaments will be smaller causing directors to collapse the divisions and inviduals who are truly novices will be debating against JV debaters who should be in open because they have over 100 rounds of experience. 

          Like I said before, Directors who allow this to happen certainly have their own reasons.  I would certainly like to hear those reasons.  I try to learn from Directors who have more experience than me.  I watch what they do and I follow their example.  I guess, the lesson I learned from watching entry choices made at a recent tournament was do whatever you need to do to practically guarantee your teams go 6 - 0 in their bracket regardless of the impact it has on other people in a similar bracket.  

          These teams will get their trophy and I will have to spend the next week convincing my debaters that they are doing wonderfully for their experience level and they shouldn't quit.


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