[eDebate] Novice - JV eligibility

Jim Hanson hansonjb
Mon Dec 3 00:22:54 CST 2007

I disagree, also respectfully. :) unfortunately, I'm running short on time
and so can't write a ton but here's the short of my response:

my rationale is the solution to the problem: have a robust jv division
filled with jv level debaters.

I am speaking more from a northwest school's, jim hanson's perspective. we
don't get jv division at many tournaments. my kids get open division or
nothing and it is usually a very tough open division (though not always).

at usc, the tournament I have most frequently put kids into jv division,
open division is very tough. for our frosh who have gone 0-6, 1-5, 2-4, and
even sometimes 3-3 in open during the fall, jv division is appropriate but
you're right unfortunate for other kids (although a good challenge and hence
educational for them using your "go into open to learn more" argument).
going into open division at this tournament for these kids can be (though
not always) demoralizing and overwhelming in exactly the same way you are
talking about the kids in your program joe. it goes both ways--and bottom
line, it is an unfortunate choice to make and that was the point of my post.

jim :)
hansonjb at whitman.edu

From: "Zompetti, Joseph Perry" <jpzompe at ilstu.edu>
Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 12:16 PM
To: "Jim Hanson" <hansonjb at whitman.edu>; <edebate at www.ndtceda.com>
Subject: RE: [eDebate] Novice - JV eligibility


Respectfully, this rationale is part of the problem.

First, you mention that many tournaments define JV broadly that allows your
teams to compete in that division.  Tournament directors should define the
division more narrowly.

A student's year in school shouldn't be the determining factor of what
division they're in.  Instead, their competitive level should determine it.

Your debaters may go 2-4 in Open, but they'll only get better if they debate
in Open.  Keeping them in JV impedes their progress.

And, perhaps more importantly (at least from our perspective), it impedes
the growth of other debaters who really should be in JV.  Our JV students -
who definitely aren't novice and would only replicate this problem in novice
if we put them there - are going 2-4 (if they're lucky) against teams who
have debate in Open, or who have won JV tournaments, or who could be
competitive in Open, or all of the above.

What we're talking about here are two things -
1.  What is "fair" in terms of who we place in what division (and by
extension the education of our students), and
2.  Individual squad's competitive success

I personally don't think these are mutually-exclusive.  Whitman's program
(and others) will still be very competitive, receive their CEDA points,
etc., if they more fairly placed their debaters in the appropriate
divisions.  Plus, their students would learn more.  Plus, other programs
wouldn't suffer.

For all the talk on this listserv and at professional meetings about keeping
debate programs and debaters in the activity, it surprises me that so many
folks still advocate this sort of competitive edge at the expense of small
or beginning programs.

Five years ago ISU didn't have an NDT/CEDA program.  We've worked hard to
rebuild this program.  We now have 6 teams - over half of whom are novice
and JV.  But putting Open-level debaters in JV (or JV level debaters in
novice) is seriously hampering our efforts at retaining the debaters we

I suspect we're not the only school with this problem.  Others should chime

Squads should place their debaters in the appropriate competitive division.
Is this really too much to ask???



From: edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com on behalf of Jim Hanson
Sent: Sun 12/2/2007 1:59 PM
To: edebate at www.ndtceda.com
Subject: Re: [eDebate] Novice - JV eligibility

I'm going to add in another angle on this discussion:

the problem of too many people pushing jv eligible teams into open division
at tournaments where there is a jv division, at least the ones we attend.

the result: the jv divisions tend to have very few teams participating and
they are teams that are, on the whole, substantially less competitive than
the open division.

so, then, I have debaters who are set to go 2-4 in open division (and maybe
worse) or who go in jv division and go 6-0 and might very well be one of the
teams you all would be complaining about (although they would be completely
and totally within the definitions provided by the tournaments--almost
always frosh in their first semester of debate).

jim :)
hansonjb at whitman.edu

From: NEIL BERCH <mailto:berchnorto at msn.com>
Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 8:16 AM
To: Sarah Snider <mailto:sjsnider at ksu.edu>  ; edebate at www.ndtceda.com ; J
Stan <mailto:jstan1979 at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [eDebate] Novice - JV eligibility

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

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
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

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> 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

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

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 > 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> 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

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.


eDebate mailing list
eDebate at www.ndtceda.com

eDebate mailing list
eDebate at www.ndtceda.com

eDebate mailing list
eDebate at www.ndtceda.com


eDebate mailing list
eDebate at www.ndtceda.com

More information about the Mailman mailing list