[eDebate] ans Hoe

Josh jbhdb8
Sat Jul 21 21:07:38 CDT 2007


Look, believe it or not I got your argument.....

I dont really want to go round and round on that one anymore,  I will only
mention that reversing one small correlative relationship may arrest
some minor decline...But probably the ship has sailed.  And there is no way
people are coming back.  My belief, which I will expound on in a second, is
that it is VERY hard to build a consistently successful program in this
business NO MATTER the topic.  Perhaps this makes your argument for you -
that we should reduce the entrance requirements in order to have a more
diverse and broad based activity.  Perhaps it makes the argument that
debate, as we practice it could never really be a broad based activity in
the way you envision if the basic framework for debate doesnt change.

This does not mean what you think it means, my argument is that we CEDA folk
used to all be able to afford to go to a TON more tournaments, do a TON more
regional travel, chase sweepstake trophies by taking 20 teams all over the
country. But, to this romantic diverse picture you should add costs,
like massive failure rates and debaters who debated over decades instead of
a normal college student period.  I personally remember my two years in
graduate school (as an assistant coach) going to over 12 tournaments a year
probably dropping a full point off my GPA just from lack of study and
writing time. During this frequently romantacized period I can remember over
40 students from top debate schools that barely graduated or failed to
graduate but sure did great in debate.

In addition, travel costs and hassle went WAY up since then in the same
period as well.  Now we all travel to many less tournaments - which has hurt
district travel.  People have referred to this as "Bid Chasing."  I call
this educational responsibility and budget management.  As costs have
increased people naturally go to less tournaments.  Back in the "good old
days of CEDA" people went to regional tournaments, every national
tournament, and ever round robin.  Now, people go to the CORE national
tournaments and a few district tournaments (yes, we went to district
tournaments last year - Miami, Wayne, etc).   I know for a fact, that my
travel choices are primarily based on making sure my students rarely if ever
travel back to back weeks and usually travel more like once a month.  This
is because of academics and cost.

Instead let me move to a more provocative argument, you say:


>  MK: I know you meant your comment in the context of growing an individual
> program, implying that those who left debate were somehow deficient.  That
> is the ultimate irony.
>

Since I am already pretty much considered the devil/NDT lapdog by my CEDA
compatriots let me risk further flaming by arguing that there are a limited
number of programs that can do debate in its current construction - no
matter what you make the topic - because the barriers to having a long term,
successful, and well-funded program are SO HIGH that you have to have a
coach who is willing to basically work for decades to endow a program OR
have consistent administrative support at the highest level over a LONG
period of time (very rare in an era where University Administrations
turn-over almost as much as college basketball coaches).

There has NEVER been a program I worked at that didnt face budget cuts at
least during one year I was working at the school.

What you oversimplify in your analysis is that if you take over a program -
and are relatively new to debate (but have some talent) - and have about a
40-60k budget you are not just trying to compete against those evil NDT
stalwart coaches...You are competing against their Academic Requirements for
Admission, their Scholarship Lines, their Coaching lines, their Assistant
Coaching Lines, their Alumni coaching support, and their funding streams.
This is why I said what I said, and it is not sad that I said it, its damn
true.  You cannot start a program in this day and age and expect to have
long term success unless you actually are investing in building a program
LONG TERM.  Expecting a change of breadth in a topic or the orientation to
somehow allow you an equal or even competitive playing field is a total PIPE
DREAM.

Yes, many of us without all those advantages have had success - and even
some consistent success...Truth is there are many very talented people all
over the country doing this work at hundreds of diverse institutions even in
this "decline" period.  But the teams that win over and over again do so
because they have built an institution within an institution.

You can delude yourself all you want about the glory days and CEDA and
topics and whatever....But what we really need is some of the following:

1. Workshops with people who have built institutions within institutions
within which we share with others what we have done and trying to give each
other solutions to the institutional problems we all share in this new
expensive and challenging era.

2. Considering using web conferencing regionally to increase debates and
decrease costs.  Tuna has been suggesting this for years and its a good idea
and a way for programs without much money to get kids rounds for less money
and to create some cooperatives within regions both on the coaching level
and the  competition level.  I am a tech believer and use it in many ways
within how I run my squad to decrease costs and increase efficiency.

3. All of us doing whatever we can whenever we can within whatever
intstitutional support we have to increase race, gender, and orientation
diversity in this still way too white male activity.

4. Trying to host cooperatives or coaching clinics in any way we can to help
other new coaches who are trying to make a go of this learn all the
intricacies of approaching and interpreting topics.  I think this is really
what you were talking about.  I think Matt has been an innovator in this
area and I would like to commit more to this kind of work in the future.
Unfortunately, having to raise all our own money has made my summers a mess
with the camps.  I do want, very much, to do some cooperative regional
summer work somehow if I can figure it out with anyone who needs or wants
help.  This could certainly also happen electronically in some ways.

I will posit that ALL of these suggestions if we all really worked
cooperatively potentially would help sustain programs more than topic
reforms.  Certainly more than policy + non-policy.  If you are right that
expertise is the barrier cooperatives solves...If I am right that its
building long term institutional capacity that cannot be cut off by swings
in administrative support I would bet that my solutions are MUCH better.

Two last comments:

1. I didnt hate my time debating in CEDA...I loved it and loved the people
and tournaments and time.  It really was the best time of my life in many
ways.  I reflected a TON on things I would change if I was ever a director
based on things I learned during that period.  If it seems I am critical its
specific to that period which I actually overall loved.  I say everything I
say with respect and love for all my friends from that time.

2. I have felt recently that I post way too much.  A few people who I care
about made comments like "you dont have to comment on everything."  I just
wanted to say that I usually try to hold myself to Topics Good and Policy
Debate Good discussions...Thats just most of what gets discussed these
days.  Anyway, I apologize if I talk too much.....I will try to shut up
more.

Hope everyone is doing well,

Josh
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