[eDebate] Is it the resolution?
Tue Jul 17 13:54:16 CDT 2007
A lively (if not new discussion) on why policy debate may or not be attracting
more schools, is again before us. I have no evidence, but based on 'time
served" I'd like to chime in as well.
I. The Merger
The merger and the proliferation of "one or more of the following:" style
topics has in some ways created (at the highest levels of competition) a need
for coaching staffs, scouting, counterplan theory, etc., that was ok in the
1980's, but not necessary to be a national championship level program at that
time. When there were two topics each year in CEDA, what came from the
newspaper on the weekend of the tournament, a few value objections, straight
case objections, witty cross x, and a Hasty Generalization position was about
all you needed.
II. Choosing your judge
I observe that the expanded role of judge preference has also changed the
debate enviroment. Prior to the merger, you got a strike sheet. That was
it.You could get rid of 5-10 judges, but you did not exclusively choose the
community of people you debated in front of. You got whoever was available
after your strike quota was exhausted. Thus a wider variety of presentation
style seemed more evident. You might have a local news caster, a parent, or
the principal of a high school, or an instructor at the college you debated
at judge rounds. Elim panels were especially unpredicatable and came from the
"lay" population. The debate community now gives awards for the 'best' judges
III. Topic Selection and Pre-Round Case Disclosure
The topic selection process, while exhausting, and a true service from those
who travel to attend the event, write and debate position papers and blog, and
who get yelled at alot, seems to create so much "pre-debate" that what is
occuring in rounds is largely predictable. And I may never understand (in a
competitive event where two individuals are in a closed discussion with two
other people with a judge evaluating an outcome of who argued more
effectively) the practice of telling 'your opponents' what you are going to
argue ahead of time. This has led to the late start of rounds in high school
and college. This practice alone favors the organized, budgeted, well staffed
IV. All this said, parli is still...well its parli
Maybe this is just how debate has evolved. Parli is a little too loose for my
tastes. You need a topic before the tournament itself, and it should be
germane to the topical issues of the day,...not the 13th century, or a river
dance, but those rounds can also be fun.
V. Nostalgic Summation
As a forensicator from the era when a lot of debaters also did I.E. in the
same weekend, we still had combined policy/i.e programs on tournament
weekends, five round prelims in CEDA, 8-3-5 format, you answered your own
questions in cross x (or lost for being rude and interrupting), the
counterpaln was an admission you were not prepared---not the most common
negative strategy, and lots of debaters wore a tie,... I see a great change.
It seems to work for some.
But if it does not work for you, before discussing another debate schism, I
agree with several of the posts I've seen that some compromises and joint work
toward solutions is good. Maybe every other year, a non policy topic, or any
topic that does not say "one or more of the following." Our an alternative non
policy topic available experimentally for some tournaments. Alternative topic
available each round determined on a coin flip. Or a novice/jv non policy
topic for torunaments large enough to have multiple divisions (which I believe
has already been tried or suggested at ADA tournments. Im not really sure
about that though).
So thats my two cents. Feel free to disagree or agree, reply or not reply, but
please no rudeness. Lots of 'perhaps valuable' opinions are probably not
expressed on edebate because of the level and style of the more than
occasional negative or coarse discourse contained in replies to matters in
contention. As coaches and role models we must model the civility and maturity
we seek and work to develop in our student charges. Thanks to those who read.
Santa Fe Community College
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