[eDebate] responses to Marna, Joe, Ede, etc.

NEIL BERCH berchnorto
Tue Jul 17 23:49:48 CDT 2007

Well, go away for 7 hours and find lots to think about.  I was right that debating skills would be useful at the youth baseball game.  One of the features of July Ball is that there are volunteer umps.  Having umpiring experience and an inability to say no quickly enough made me a volunteer.  The good news is that adult volunteer umpires get to stand behind the pitcher.  The bad news is that most pitchers don't field line drives very well.  Also, when you call Ball Four, you're standing right behind the pitcher.  It's kind of equivalent to judging a round with debaters questioning your flow as they speak.  Anyway, on to responses.  In semi-chronological order:

1.  Anything that gets Marna Weston to return to college policy debate would be a good thing.
2.  I agree with most of Marna's points, and especially the one about the tone of edebate.  I would commend the participants in today's discussion for keeping it on a relatively high plane.
3.  I note the powerful testimony from Joe and Matt on the importance of later years of debate.  I will admit that there may just be things that I (as a never-debater) cannot understand, but my experience over the last decade supports the diminishing returns argument.  Note, however, that I've never suggested to a student that "You've had enough debate.  You should quit and let a new person take your place."  I certainly value the investment that people have made in debate.  I have, however, counseled a couple of 3-year debaters who tell me they've lost their enthusiasm that maybe they can contribute in other ways (which could serve as a transition to a coaching career).  In any event, I first brought this up in the context of whether we should cater our resolution-writing to the 8th year debater who will compete for a first-round or the potential novice who has yet to be exposed to debate.  I think both are important, but I think that our resolution-writing is skewed in favor of one of those.  Similarly, I am fortunate to have a great group of senior debaters who recognize that there are tradeoffs (my seniors are all native West Virginians who know that money doesn't grow on governmentally-funded trees).  They understand that if they go to more national circuit tournaments, I will be able to travel fewer novices.  With little prompting from me, they can make the decision that if they go to Miami (OH) instead of West Georgia (thus my question earlier today) and go to Cornell instead of Northwestern, I can travel another team for the entire season.  And they want as many people as possible to have the same great experience that they have had through debate.  I'm proud of their debate accomplishments over the last three years, but I'm even more proud of how they have developed as people.
4.  I agree with Ede.  Those of us who hold this view on topic size, novice accessibility, etc. (and I might add that not everyone who is concerned about novice agrees with us on topic size/style) haven't organized at all.  We really do just complain about it once a year.
5.  Ede is right that Brett sets a good example here.  He really has flown into CEDA Nationals just to attend the business meeting.  CEDA isn't perfect by any means, but it is in form much more democratic than most organizations (or governments), and we need to take advantage of that.
6.  I know I haven't given enough consideration to these questions in voting for Topic Committee reps or 2nd Vice Presidents (nothing against anyone who has run or won; I just haven't been strategic in this way, and the same is true for others).
7.  I can't currently make the long-term commitment implied in running for either of those posts, but I hope that those who do run will offer their views on these questions (and I and others need to vote on that basis).
8.  I am willing to work with some folks on one or more papers advocating resolutions not unlike the one Tuna mentioned in his post today.  Who will join me on an ad hoc committee?
9.  It's too bad that Josh doesn't think he can be a good novice coach.  I think he's selling himself short.  And, having heard Will Repko critique a round that one of my novice teams debated at CEDA Nationals, I know he can be a great novice coach.
10.  I want to second everything that Ede said about Gordon's work as chair of the Topic Committee.  He has made the process far more inclusive, and he has served as an exemplar for those who seek to bridge the gaps in our community.  

"Ball 4, take your base (even if the pitcher is my son)."
--Neil Berch
West Virginia University
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