[eDebate] Reactionary Provisions

Michael Mangus mmangus
Mon Nov 19 22:07:26 CST 2007

I don't really have a horse in this race since I won't be coaching  
college debate for quite some time (if at all); I'm just trying to  
present a realistic view of the differences that exist among LDers. To  
be totally honest, I want to avoid getting myself caught up in a big  
exchange. There are just two (interrelated) things I want to mention  
before I return to obscurity.

The first is that I think Neil Berch's use of me as an example misses  
the point of my post: for every person who is fortunate enough to have  
a strong technical LD background, there are many others who do not get  
to debate on the national circuit or who have a very different  
national-circuit experience than I did. I was often derided for being  
too much like a policy debater, and the laundry list i posted  
yesterday was only a short summary of the very significant differences  
that i think exist even between national circuit LD and policy debate.  
The fact that I was lucky enough to debate at progressive tournaments  
on the LD national circuit and then learn about policy from dedicated  
coaches and a senior partner does not mean that others will have the  
same experience.

The second (and related) point to be made is that if we use the  
criteria  that Martin Harris suggests - things like public speaking  
skill, pre-tournament preparation, filing, presence, and developing  
arguments - we would also probably need a rule which counts experience  
public forum, student congress, and extemporaneous speaking (they even  
have cross-ex at some extemp tournaments, including the final rounds  
at nfl nationals). Surely there are at least some congress or public  
forum stars who have these skills: consider that the 2007 public forum  
toc champions were both former LD debaters with national circuit  

The unifying message here is that "your mileage may vary." Different  
people get different skills from high school forensics, and  
generalizations about which events count are almost impossible to  
make.  I think that if there needs to be a rule - and perhaps there  
does need to be - a novice "move-up" rule which measures actual  
success makes a whole lot more sense than making sweeping claims about  
how much incoming novices know about debate.

Michael Mangus

On Nov 19, 2007, at 10:27 PM, NEIL BERCH wrote:

> I hate the LD-novice discussion almost as much as I hate the more  
> general novice eligibility discussion.  That said, a few points from  
> someone who is genuinely torn on whether Chief's amendment is a good  
> idea.
> First, I think it is ridiculously impossible to make the case that  
> there are not at least SOME high school LD debaters who are too good  
> for college policy novice division (meaning they will scare people  
> away, etc.).  Let's look at the two examples people have brought  
> up.  Blake Johnson started out his first year of college debate with  
> a quick trip to novice.  He then debated in JV and Open most of the  
> rest of the year (he used up his three JV finals in his first  
> semester).  At the end of the season, he debated in novice at JV/ 
> Novice Nats at Towson (after being ruled ineligible to be in JV Nats  
> there; let's not go back to that story, but, yes, he was eligible  
> for novice but not JV).  He and his partner lost in finals to the  
> Bard/Vassar team of Zisman and Davis.  Except for that one instance  
> (and the one to start the year, where he lost in semis), Mr. Johnson  
> and Coach Massey decided that it was unethical and/or bad for him  
> and others for Mr. Johnson to debate in Novice.
> Michael Mangus posted to this thread yesterday as well.  Mr. Mangus  
> (who debated and coached high school LD) indicates that "I would  
> hesitate to say that even national circuit LD is particularly useful  
> as training for policy debate."
> I would suggest that his record suggests otherwise.  For his entire  
> first year at Pitt, Mr. Mangus debated in the Open division.  He  
> finished below .500 at only two tournaments, the notoriously  
> challenging WVU warmup tournament (with a just-moving-up JV hybrid  
> partner) and the NDT (yes, he qualified for the NDT, a typical  
> novice experience).  After the WVU warmup tournament, he went 4-4 at  
> Georgia State in Open, did the same at Wake, and cleared at just  
> about every other Open tournament he entered.  He was eligible for  
> our Novice Nationals, but he did not enter.  Kudos to Mr. Mangus and  
> Gordon Mitchell for making good ethical decisions (as well as for  
> not retarding Mr. Mangus's development).
> So, then Jackie's right, and there's no need for a rule, right?  The  
> problem, as Chief said, is that not everyone is as ethical as Jackie  
> and Gordon.  There are indeed multiple instances of people taking  
> experienced high school LD debaters and riding them to novice  
> victory all year for the points.  I'm not going to name names  
> (better to name names of those who are acting "ethically"), but it  
> does happen.
> So, then Chief is right and we should legislate these renegades out  
> of their loophole, right?  But Jackie raises a good point about how  
> that might discourage run-of-the-mill high school LD debaters who  
> would be demoralized if they had to debate in JV.  Jackie is pretty  
> convincing on this point, especially as he heads out the door to  
> outrounds during one of the Northeast region's 10 rounds in two days  
> marathons.
> So, then Jackie's right, and this rule could do more harm than good,  
> right?  Well, it's an empirical question, and I don't know the answer.
> So, what about the ADA, which has a similar rule?  They have lots of  
> novices, so the rule must be good for novice.  Well, after the rule  
> was adopted, novice divisions at ADA tournaments dropped.  Some  
> claimed it was because of this rule, but there was no evidence to  
> support that contention.  Those divisions have increased in size in  
> the past year, so I doubt that was the issue.  Further, the other  
> region that has huge novice divisions is CEDA Northeast.  It does  
> not have an LD rule, and it relies on social pressure among  
> coaches.  So, one thrives with that rule, one thrives without it.
> I was concerned about those novices who were scared off, so I  
> supported (very strongly) the LD rule when the ADA considered it.  I  
> also supported a novice move-up rule (similar to the JV one) that  
> ADA had for a short while.  Here's the thing:  Jackie is probably  
> right that we, in the end, have to rely on the ethics of our  
> colleagues.  When we put in an LD rule, that didn't change things  
> very much.  It kept a couple of hotshots out of novice each year, it  
> kept a handful of potentially OK debaters out of novice each year,  
> and it made the division "safe" for novices who just stayed there  
> and beat up others.
> When we put in the move-up rule, it potentially hurt small programs  
> with one really good novice team more than it did larger programs  
> with 3 or 4 really good novice teams.  But there are plenty of other  
> things that people do to give their novices a leg up.  They can  
> recruit them in the spring and send them to camp (we did that  
> occasionally when we sent debaters to camps).  They can recruit them  
> in the spring and keep them under 24 rounds (18 for ADA  
> tournaments); that way, they're eligible for novice for all of the  
> following year.  There was a coach (no longer active) who was  
> rumored to recruit incoming students who had done individual events  
> and give them scholarships provided that they agreed to do 2 or 3  
> policy tournaments during their senior year in high school.
> And, the same thing can go on at the JV level.  If WVU were able to  
> recruit this year's TOC policy champions (I don't know how many  
> times we've almost gotten the TOC champions!), there is nothing  
> (other than my questionable sense of ethics) that would prevent me  
> from sending them to King's, Richmond, and West Point in the JV  
> division.
> I guess what I'm saying is that in a vacuum, I think Chief is  
> probably right.  However, we're not operating in a vacuum.  Taking  
> the dominating LD folks out of novice will help keep a couple of  
> ringers out, will help other folks be a little more successful, will  
> scare of a couple of high school LD debaters who aren't ready for  
> JV, and will keep a couple of novices who might otherwise be scared  
> off.  How you weight that is up to you.  But it will simply open the  
> doors for someone else who has some other scheme that nobody has  
> thought of yet, and who is not as ethical as Gordon and Jackie.
> The only long-term solutions that I can see involve a move-up rule  
> (but see above for caveats) or not counting novice points for  
> sweepstakes (which goes against my ethos on so many levels).
> So, I'll probably abstain on the ratification vote and hope that the  
> airing of the issue will have a salutary effect on coaches.
> --Neil Berch
> West Virginia University
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Darren Elliott
> To: edebate at ndtceda.com ; debate at ou.edu ; jtedebate at yahoo.com
> Sent: Monday, November 19, 2007 7:05 PM
> Subject: Re: [eDebate] Reactionary Provisions
> Hi JT,
> As I said in the reply to Jackie, some of these concerns were hashed  
> out at the CEDA Business Mtg. at NCA where in large part this rule  
> was supported.  But i thought I could provide you some context since  
> you and others were not there.
> 1.  Community Shame is a nice concept.  See my post to Jackie.  It  
> doesnt work.  It hasnt worked.  What it does do however is create  
> potentially hostile situations between directors, some of which will  
> politically retaliate, and it still doesnt solve the problem for the  
> Novice we are losing.  I am not sure where your 10% number comes  
> from, but I do know the problem is more widespread than you give it  
> credit for.  How many Novice debates have you judged this year?  How  
> many with debaters on one side with HS LD experience and on the  
> other debaters with no experience?  This is not meat to disparage,  
> but when was the last time my alma mater had novices debate?  When  
> was the last time an Emporia debater came to you and contemplated  
> quitting because of the inequity they were facing because other  
> coaches had ethical lapses?  Social location often shapes our  
> understanding of the world.
> 2.  You say, "a few high profile complainers did not and does not  
> warrant the rule".  What does that even mean?  Who are you calling  
> out?  I can tell you how many coaches have complained this year  
> alone, not to mention past years.  I can tell you how many novices  
> have complained and at least know of a couple who walked away  
> because of the hurdles in Novice when it comes to debating people  
> with experience (none of them on my squad mind you--but plenty on  
> others).  And do Novices you dont know have a right to complain  
> since "high profile" people do not?  I am still at a loss what that  
> even means.  The 2 to publicly post on this are me and Martin  
> Harris.  If that makes us high profile complainers I will just  
> laugh, shrug, and say Im ok with that.
> 3.  You then mock the rationale by saying you didnt realize "our  
> poor novices" were "getting slaughter"ed.  Interesting use of  
> language.  I am still curious as to the answers above regarding your  
> interaction with novice debate either as a judge or coach.  But  
> beyond that, you are right.  Not that many HS debaters do it on the  
> National Circuit in LD, but any that compete at that level are too  
> many to allow them to compete in Novice in College.  And in my post  
> to Jackie I also described why the Natl. Circuit LD issue is not the  
> crux of the argument.
> 4.  You say by "national they mean TOC".  I dont think so.  I didnt  
> think TOC when as part of "they" I wrote the amendment.  And the  
> lines between policy debate and philosophical debate are so blurred  
> that the arguments being made in LD rounds even at Regional KS  
> tournaments (Zizek, Foucault, etc) only adds to my argument that  
> debaters come in knowing the language and the art, should not be  
> considered novices.
> 5.  Do you really want to use Blake Johnson as an example as why HS  
> LD debaters should be allowed to begin in Novice in College?  : )  I  
> just disagree about them knowing the lingo, knowing the format,  
> knowing how to play a debate game.  Can you in good conscience say  
> that a debater with 100 rounds of LD has no large advantage over  
> someone from an A and D class that has never seen a debate?  Really?
> 6.  Your blurring lines argument is a red herring.  And you are  
> wrong about the philosophy authors being ran in a lot of Regional LD  
> rounds.  Why?  Because their squads are mixed policy and ld in many  
> cases and guess who the LD kids second semester get their cards from  
> during the first semester?  And in Missouri its about the same  
> story.  So saying its all Kant, and Rawls is just plain wrong.  But  
> maybe you judge a lot of HS LD I didnt know about : )
> 7.  Finally I am not basing any of this amendment on TOC/National  
> Circuit LD.  While I think there are some Natl. Circuit LD debaters  
> debating Novice in college, I think that is part (a big part) of the  
> problem.  But anytime a debater enters college debate with 100+  
> rounds of LD, no one in good conscience, can say they belong in  
> Novice.  I would encourage anyone who thinks that way to step out of  
> JV and Open and either judge some novice debates where one team has  
> HS experience and the other does not, or to talk to the novice  
> debaters who are getting beaten by these debaters, or coach novice  
> teams and understand the hurdles they face beyond those who already  
> know format and style, or to judge an equivalent number of HS LD  
> rounds that these debaters competed in and then tell me they arent  
> Novice.  I just dont think you can do it.  4 pepsi challenges for  
> the price of 1.
> Respectfully,
> chief
> Darren Elliott
> Director of Debate and Forensics--KCKCC
> CEDA 1st VP
> >>> J T <jtedebate at yahoo.com> 11/18/07 12:35 PM >>>
> Why are we making a rule to address maybe 10% of people in the  
> country who did LD?  Jackie is dead on here...I assume a director or  
> two could bring in a ringer to beat up some novices---But community  
> shame can go a long way...it happens when people think directors  
> sandbag their JV and novice to gain points...when they do, others  
> give them shit or outright tell them they are being uneducational  
> asses and the situation generally resolves itself...maybe the right  
> people just need to realize they are being uneducational asses--I  
> don't remember this being a large problem before the rule...a few  
> high profile complainers did not and does not warrant the rule
> The Rationale operates under a few faulty assumptions:
> A number of high school students are competing on the National  
> circuit in LD which is similar to policy debate and then coming to  
> college understanding the ins and outs of debate and debating in  
> Novice against people who have never seen a debate before, much less  
> 50 rounds of debate.
> 1. not THAT many HS LD debaters debate on the national circuit-- 
> especially given the overall number of those debaters nationwide. I  
> was unaware that LDers have been coming in and slaughtering our poor  
> novices--sounds like it's reaching epidemic proportions!
> 2. by national they mean TOC, again a small minority of the overall  
> numbers that do not engage in policy-ish LD debate.  In many states,  
> people in LD have to strongly guard against making any reference to  
> "policy args" or "policy terminology" because "this is LD, not  
> policy" as I have heard judges in Kansas and Missouri say...
> 3.  most do not know the lingo or have a bastardized understanding  
> of the "ins and outs of debate"--
> --ask Blake Johnson if he knew what a floating pic was coming into  
> to college...(if he did, I bet he forgot)--
> 4.experience differences will always exist, even in LD--the TOC was  
> running T in LD when I debated...at least from Missouri we heard  
> tall tales of such craziness...But if I had run T or a CP (and I had  
> gone to policy camp) I would have lost and the coach bench me...
> 5. blurring lines is like mixing burdens---not a winning arg!  it  
> makes no sense that someone who did LD would automatically know  
> enough about things like framework, status and tricky perms to make  
> a difference...I suspect this comes from Neandethal anti-K  
> hacks...in most parts of the country (with an enormous lack in  
> college debaters/coaches in judging pools--mostly community) Zizek,  
> Lacan, Schlag, Foucault, Butler, Derrida never make it into an LD  
> rounds...more like John Rawls, Kant, or some lofty crap about  
> Justice or Hope...not real big college K authors
> step out of TOC/national circuit and recognize what debate is like  
> for the rest of the country!
> "Massey, Jackie B." <debate at ou.edu> wrote: Hello,
> I just wanted to offer my perspective on one of the proposed  
> ammendment changes in the VP report.
> My perspective is that we do not need rules to dictate when ethics  
> should probably be more responsible.  I think the rule counting LD  
> as eligibility is somewhat reactionary, and not appealing to the  
> true hopes of participation for some, in the face of the detrmiments  
> when a novice team gets waxed by a super LD star.
> The rationale for the rule makes  too many assumptions and false  
> categorizations from my perspective.
> RATIONALE: A number of high school students are competing on the
> National circuit in LD which is similar to policy debate and then  
> coming
> to college understanding the ins and outs of debate and debating in
> Novice against people who have never seen a debate before, much less  
> 50
> rounds of debate. Additionally college NFA LD is policy LD and should
> count as policy debate rounds. Finally, with the lines blurred in
> contemporary college debate between policy and critical anyone who has
> debated before, even in high school LD, has quite a leg up on a true
> Novice. LD, even when not policy oriented in HS, is closer to the
> critical side of the community and should count against novice
> eligibility.
> ------- The rationale atttempts to use a false dichotomy of critical  
> and policy to support what is acknowledged as "lines blurred".  I am  
> somewhat of a beneficiary of this rule.  My perspective is that if a  
> student is so far above the rest of the students, they should debate  
> JV or open, and not stay in novice.  There are many high school LD  
> debaters that would never debate if they were pushed into JV when  
> they entered college debate.  More than there are that quit whenever  
> a super novice is left in novice and waxes and wanes.  (no evidence  
> - my opinion)
> They still gotta get rid of of the "aff case" and "neg case"  
> terminology.  The problem is some of these students do appear to  
> know the "ins and outs"  (official langauge now) of debate, and  
> devestate some of the new comers.  This is where i say it becomes  
> more of an ethical issue for the coaches to move them up.  Currently  
> the rule allows a starting point for those LD debaters  who did not  
> travel National Circuit LD (most of them) to begin college debate  
> and not have to compete against those who were doing CX in high  
> school.  It cuts both ways, thats why rules arent always the answer.
> Peace,
> Massey
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> JT
> Asst. Debate Coach
> Emporia State University
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