[eDebate] rulebreaking doesn't win a lot of debates and there will be no mass exodus

matt stannard stannardmatt
Tue Jun 19 17:27:16 CDT 2007

At this point the threat of a schism is laughable.  "Schism" implies, in context if not in literal definition, a large-scale split.  We're talking about maybe three or four schools leaving and forming their own debate league with open resolutions -- a move which would be disasterous for their travel budgets.  The reason that more schools do not wilfilly embrace self-consciously nontopical affs now is that there are usually only one or two teams every year, out of like 200, who win a significant number of debates with those affs.  The rest of the teams that do it are poor imitators of "rebel" teams they idolize.  And usually their politics are completely absurd, confrontational towards the wrong targets (eg "Ross Smith is the MAN!!!" and "Down with Hansen" kind of stupidity) and they can't answer arguments or explain their research.  Once they learn to do those things, they realize the opportunity cost to debating the topic isn't as ideologically or competitively taxing as they thought.
There ain't no movement here, folks.  There are a few posts on edebate.  
Moreover, I haven't seen a resolution yet that didn't allow teams to take a critical approach to their affs if they wanted to.  Sure, they might have to shift their brand of criticism to accomodate the literature, and may even have to run arguments they don't personally or unqualifiedly endorse.  I really like hearing critical affs, creative approaches to answering various brands of procedural and substantive debate, etc.  I don't see anything wrong with that.  But if the bottom line is "I should get to run whatever the fxxx I want," here's my sober assessment of that cry: No you shouldn't.  I don't care about your myopia.  Go cry to your mama.  Better yet, prove that you are capable of REAL creativity: the kind that comes from stretching boundaries instead of running away from them.  And prove that you are capable of genuine political engagement: the kind that comes from working within democratic parameters.  
But back to my original point: In the status quo, maybe one or two teams every year can win with genuine, unadalterated rulebreaking, and it's just not going to get any larger than that.  And I can live with that, and I really don't care if that's not good enough for either side in this increasingly ridiculous discussion.
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