[eDebate] the good old days?

Darren Elliott delliott
Tue Oct 16 02:05:48 CDT 2007

As ML's cousin, Billy Joel, would sing, "The good ole days werent always
good, and tomorrow aint as bad as it seems."

Ive gone back and forth on the MPJ issue over the years.  Ultimately I
think it protects (a good thing) more than it harms.  But Ken brings up
a good point.  At tournaments with multiple divisions, the Novice and JV
divisions often get the leftovers.  I think the CEDA organization must
make a sound and consistent decision.  If we believe MPJ to be
educational and necessary, we need to mandate it in all divisions.  I am
submitting an amendment to CEDA to this degree that will effect
sanctioning.  I am hopeful you will support the amendment whether you
support MPJ or not.  We use MPJ in all divisions at our tournament.  I
believe it is important.  As a result we take a big hit on hiring
judges.  But I think its worth it.  This past weekend we lost about 14
rounds of judging overall.  Our Novice and JV divisions will have
educational judges however because I think the good outweighs the bad
and am willing to take the financial hit.  I hope others will follow


Darren Elliott
Director of Debate--KCKCC

>>> LACC Forensics <forensics at lacitycollege.edu> 10/14/07 5:37 PM >>>
I don?t disagree with Matt?s complaints about the pre-MPJ days. I think
these criticisms are absolutely true and continue on the high school
today. Unfortunately, I think MPJ has solved some problems, but created

Now, I will fully admit that my perspective is colored by my experience.
Yes, I did compete for a good program and won?t deny that we enjoyed
relationships with judges. However, there are two issues for which Matt,
Jim, and Andy?s defenses of MPJ don?t really account.

The first is true adaptation. Andy says that this still occurs just with
different parameters. While this may be true, I don?t think it is as
significant or as valuable as the adaptation that was necessary in the
Yes, we had a good reputation and that worked to our advantage much as
does today?s debaters. However, unlike today?s debaters, we routinely
had to
adapt to judges who had very different preferences than we did. How
often do
today?s national circuit debaters have to adapt to judging styles as
different as Bud York and Rodger Biles? I would say almost never, yet we
to do so almost every week. Our range of skills were far greater than
developed by the top debaters in the country today because they had to

The second issue is education. The problem I have with defenders of MPJ
the question of education is, education for who? Maybe there is some
specific education that takes place for those elite teams that benefit
MPJ on a regular basis. But what about those who are left behind? As a
community college coach, I rarely have open division competitors and who
judges the novice and JV divisions? We are left with the judges that no
in the Varsity division wants. So, not only do the students who are most
need of education in the activity not receive access to the better
they are often judged by people who use their time in the lower
divisions to
ingratiate themselves to teams in the higher divisions by voting for
types of arguments so that they might be preferred in the future.

I won?t deny that MPJ works great for some programs. Of course there is
drop-off in attendance by major circuit schools with varsity teams when
tournaments don?t use MPJ - those teams lose a huge competitive
But, it doesn?t work for a lot of programs and that?s fine as long as
supporters of MPJ stop pretending that it is an egalitarian approach. At
least admit that you?re willing to sacrifice novice and JV debaters for
success of varsity students. The truth is that I don?t care much about
happens at the varsity level. I think students who are still competing
that level are far more able to adapt to the challenges of judging and
arguments than those in the On 10/14/07 1:19 PM, "matt stannard" <stannardmatt at hotmail.com> wrote:

> "Golden age" arguments scare me.
> Prior to the MPJ we practice (at SOME tournaments) today, tab room
> routinely placed judges in rounds that favored their teams or the best
or most
> reputable teams.  "Random" judging made it impossible for new and
> resource-challenged teams to get a break from "circuit" judges.  Some
> tournaments purposely stacked their judging pools with lay judges to
send a
> message about contemporary debate practices (but never told us they
were doing
> this in the tournament invitations).
> Anyone wanting to see what that world was like need only go to the
majority of
> parli tournaments today.  Judges write things on ballots like "I just
> buy that argument, sorry" and "you should tuck in your shirt." 
Speaker points
> range from four 30s to four 12s.  Some judges will drop you for being
> patriotic, others for not being patriotic enough.  Good, hard-working
> routinely find themselves on the bottom of 2-1s.
> MPJ has some problems, all of which could be solved by more explicitly
> mutuality a bit more and preference a bit less.  But MPJ has has a
> externally-positive effect even on tournaments that don't use MPJ--the
> is better practically everywhere in NDT/CEDA now, than it was in the
1980s and
> early 1990s when I debated.  And by "better" I mean: judges listen
> conscientiously to arguments and work harder to make good decisions.
> "Thoughtful decision" is a phrase I find myself saying quietly as I
listen to
> the majority judges talking to our policy teams after debates these
> I would venture to say (and I think much of the edebate discussion has
> out) that many of those who long for pre-MPJ days debated at pretty
> schools themselves, and in circuits where the "random" judging favored
> and their colleagues fairly consistently.  Of course many of them
would long
> for the good old days, when some unknown team didn't stand a chance
> them and the judges they partied with the night before.
> mjs
>> > Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2007 11:58:04 -0700
>> > From: forensics at lacitycollege.edu
>> > To: edebate at ndtceda.com
>> > Subject: Re: [eDebate] ans Larson
>> > 
>> > I think Mike has the right idea about Gary's call for an
>> > 
>> > Prior to the full MPJ we practice today, most national-circuit
>> > simply allowed a certain number of strikes. Beyond that, judging
should be
>> > random. The strikes serve the purpose of controlling specific
issues such
>> as
>> > judges who have prejudices against certain debaters or programs (a
>> real
>> > problem) but randomizing the remaining judging pool does require
teams to
>> > adapt in ways that currently do not occur.
>> > 
>> > Of course, there is no perfect solution. There will never be
>> > adaptation by teams with the great diversity of argumentative
>> > that have developed. For example, my teams are never going to
engage in
>> > performance alternatives or be pirates no matter who the judge is.
But, at
>> > least there would be a better chance that my teams would have a
fair chance
>> > at the few "policy only" judges, as Josh calls them, who might be
in the
>> > pool.
>> > 
>> > I will admit that the evidence is merely anecdotal and confounds
>> call
>> > for testable alternatives, but the more I read this list lately,
the more I
>> > see that I am not the only person in the community who thinks that
there >>
>> > been significantly more stratification and interpersonal conflict
in the
>> > community since MPJ became standard.
>> > 
>> > Ken Sherwood
>> > LACC Debate
>> > 
>> > _______________________________________________
>> > eDebate mailing list
>> > eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
>> > http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
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