[eDebate] Amendment 7 Concerns

Morris, Eric R EricMorris
Mon Nov 26 10:23:47 CST 2007

I agree with Chief about all of these proposals except two (7 & 9). I'm not fully opposed to #9, but think it could be discussed more effectively. I'm opposed to #7 fully. I'll make Amendment 9 another post. 
Proposal #7 would de-sanction tournaments if they offer preference in open but not all divisions.
I agree that preferences in all divisions is a great idea, but I do not think the threat of de-sanctioning is an appropriate means to enforce such a philosophical preference. We are this when hosting, though many in our area do not. In order to do it, we subsidize our tournament with the equivalent of 3-4 full time judges (hired or our staff). Many hosts are not in a position to do this, and prefer to allocate scarce tournament-hired judging to programs that (a) lack the staffing to cover their judging commitment and (b) are not allowed to hire directly due to institutional budget rules. There are several programs that operate under such a constraint. 
There are judges who are appropriate for JV/Novice, but not for open. Each year, we have several judges SELF-identify in that manner. I've fielded teams (and judged) in all divisions, and I believe that a typical JV/Novice round requires less skill to judge. Thus, I think there is a decent rationale for treating divisions differently. All levels are valuable, but they are not equal in their demand on the judging pool. If you really believe that valuation requires precisely equal treatment, then tournaments should collapse to ONE division only. Teams of equal skill will soon find each other via power matching. 
How big is this problem, anyway? I've never seen data, and I'd like to. If it's a large number of tournaments, then presumably those hosts will all be voting against them. That should give us pause - perhaps they know something the rest of us do not. It seems pretty aggressive to use the threat of de-sanctioning to force hosts to take a potentially complicated set of demands without having so much as tried persuasion. Perhaps if a few schools attending offered to provide some extra rounds of judging to the tournament, it would solve the concerns of reluctant hosts?
There is a big difference, in my opinion, between my preference that a tournament change a policy and my willingness to threaten de-sanctioning to FORCE them to change that policy. I'm already convinced of the former, and far from convinced of the latter. If we're not willing to intervene in travel decisions (via the Bruschke amendment on the NDT side) to address a clear problem that costs programs thousands each year, why would be be willing to micro manage tournaments without much concern for the effect on the hosts?  I'm not saying centralized rules are never appropriate (sexual harassment might be such a case), but the argument for prefs in all divisions is obviously far from current practice. Such a rule would closer to appropriate as the final step in a process of persuasing people and changing tournaments, but it's not a good opening move. 
Some answers to answers:
1. "Surely people will comply and not get de-sanctioned" Well, I hope so, but the amendment is vague. If I offer MPJ but make the numbers of A's so large that schools who have a fair number of conflicts are pretty much forced to give everyone an "A", is that a preference system? Some say yes, but it doesn't feel like it when it happens to us. If numbers require me to use a struck judge in a 0-4/0-4 round, even with permission of the teams impacted, then the tournament is arguably not in compliance. It's hard to imagine that anyone will appeal to the EC to de-sanction a tournament, but then it's also hard to see the benefit of unenforced rules. If someone DID appeal, it could be a big problem. I've seen the CEDA sweepstakes basically decided by a vote of the EC before, and while I agreed with their reasoning those on the losing side considered the decision largely political. 
2. "But the rule is flexible - ANY kind of preference will do" Admittedly, this minimizes the down side. It ALSO minimizes the upside (probably even more so!) - it means CEDA is saying "as an organization we do not value placement over division, but it's fine to place differently over divisions" or some such. Perhaps my real concern is the phrase "that if we value MPJ", because this feels like an anti-MPJ proposal to me. Not a particularly effective one, but nonetheless. 
Look, in the SQ many tournaments offer MPJ in all divisions. Anyone can pick their tournaments based on that, or petition directors to change it. Questions like "what can I do to help make it easier for you to offer MPJ in all divisions" are hard to dismiss. If there's some benefit of showing the majority abstractly favor MPJ in all divisions, let's pass a resolution instead of a rule change. The ONLY thing this rule changes is that it gives those who want MPJ the tool to threaten de-sanctioning. If that's a tool they don't intend to use (either because the rule is watered down or because "surely no one would do that"), then what is the purpose? 
Dr. Eric Morris
Asst Prof of Communication & Director of Forensics
Craig Hall 366A, Dept of Communication
Missouri State University
Springfield, MO 65897
(O) 417-836-7636
(H) 417-865-6866
(C) 417-496-7141
AIM: ermocito, ericandtaleyna

Amendment #7 Tournament Sanctioning
This amendment will make sure that tournaments that use a preference system in any division will use some sort of preference in all divisions offered to receive CEDA sanctioning.  It makes a philosophical statement that if we value MPJ than it should extend to all divisions, and that as an organization we do not value placement over division.  What it does NOT do is require the same preference in each division.  One division might get 6 categories and strikes, another may get ABC, another may just get strikes.  The options are endless.  But it does preserve the ability to allow some protection for Novice and JV teams, who normally get the judges struck out of the Open pool.  I think as an organization we need to make a statement that all levels of debate are valuable and receive our acknowledgement.

Amendment #9 Novice Definition
This amendment has created the most discussion on the listserve.  While I wrote the original amendment, I would not be against changing my mind in the face of good reasoning.  While some arguments against have been put forward, both in the Business Meeting (where it received near unanimous support) and on this list serve, none of those arguments have swayed me.  Both sides of this issue can prove that we might lose novices with or without the amendment.  However the arguments I put forward are the only ones that seem to answer all of the offense generated, solving that offense, and at the same time provided unanswered disadvantages to staying the course.  Some people have provided good anecdotal evidence how debaters they have with HS LD experience can achieve success even in JV with little to no coaching (Hanson) and have provided ample hard evidence (Berch) that those winning Novice divisions have HS LD experience a lot of the time (and in some cases have ridiculous amounts of experience) and are walking through Novice.  Yet they arent being moved up.  The problem is in the SQ there is no check and no way to prevent the abuse.  When ethics and competition collide there is often a slide on the ethical (Harris), and this remains unanswered.  Pressure has not and is not working.  The only arguments against have been that people forced into JV will quit.  No one has answered that we allow an exemption waiver process in CEDA that if a debater is really not ready for JV they can go in Novice with an exemption.  This solves the offense and remains unanswered.  And I will go one further--the CEDA EC has already granted such waivers this year, proving the system works.  These were cases where the debater really was a novice even though not so definitionally.  What CEDA cant do however is the reverse.  We cant tell novices they have to move up even if they have 50, 100, or 150 rounds of HS LD experience.  That means the debaters they trounce have no protection and THEY are the ones who walk away.  I also believe that any coach can make decent arguments why a debater should go JV at least at first if they have HS experience, thereby preventing the debater from quitting outright.  And, if that debater does so poorly, they do deserve to move down, the coach can assure them there is a waiver process that allows that.  Unfortnately very few coaches will be successful in convincing a true novice (no experience) that they should stay even in a world where they are getting hammered by novices with experience.  Myself and others have also spoken to the nature of the policy/critical divide that is blurred these days and one can no longer assert that LD is so different from college debate that it shouldnt count.  Finally, I think anyone with a concept of a flow, speech order, time limits, a judge, etc. (especially with over 50 rounds of such experience) is so far ahead of any true novice, that they really should not be considered novice without some pretty serious limitation on their part (which can be accounted for in a waiver process).  In order to preserve the intent of the novice division, in order to protect the novices that currently do not have protection, and in order to help grow and preserve the numbers in novice, I encourage you to vote yes on this amendment.
Let me add one other thing about the Novice Amendment.  My program could gain a lot more from the SQ than the world of the amendment.  In KS, MO, OK there is a ton of LD debate.  Tonight I looked up how many graduating Seniors this year in the 3 state area did just LD (and high amounts).  In case you didnt know there is a ton of debate in KS, MO, and OK and a ton of that is LD.  I would have a hard time deciding which of the 10 to offer full ride scholarships to and recruit and stack the Novice division.  I guarantee you there were a lot more than 10 to choose from.  Multiply that by 10 and add some.  I havent done this because I honestly believe the community and the intent of novice sides with the amendment, and until now it has just slipped through the cracks.  Maybe I am wrong and I have just always seen Novice as something different.  The vote will determine that I guess.  But this amendment is in no way self-serving.  I honestly believe Novice should be something other than what it is at some tournaments right now.  If the vote proves me wrong, I guess I can push harder for Rookie Divisions then start doling out the "novice" scholarships to area HS LD debaters. ; )

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