[eDebate] A sidenote on victory and defeat

Michael Souders micksouders
Wed Apr 9 13:52:55 CDT 2008

At my own hazard, I suppose, I will enter into the conversation.  It's not
that I want the conversation to end or think that it's not valuable.  To the
contrary, it should continue because it is valuable.  But I think that
sometimes the central picture is lost in the anecdotal evidence.  For
example, why should people high five when Towson loses?  That, to my mind,
is at strong risk of incorrectly and even dangerously phrasing the question.
 The real question is: why should people high five when Missouri State (and
others) win?  The answer is easy: because they are our friends.  In
competitive activity, the immediate success one team (Towson, Missouri
State) comes at the immediate expense of another (Kansas x2, Towson).  The
2008 CEDA National Champions *devastated* the Mid-America region at CEDA.  When
Towson beat Kansas in the final, they celebrated like it was Lawrence two
days ago.  Was it wrong?  No.  They won and in the process defeated (in my
humble and biased opinion) an extremely able opponent.  Beating good teams
is a reason for celebration.  At most tournaments, decorum dictates that we
limit our celebrations out of respect for the other team.  In the finals of
the National Championship, however, those customary rules of politeness are
set aside so that the winners can celebrate and enjoy their victory.

I sincerely understand how feelings can be hurt when someone seemingly
celebrates your loss.  At CEDA last year, when Brett and Andrew lost their
semifinals debate to Oklahoma you'd have thought the Wicked Warlocks
themselves had just been slain, freeing Oz forever of their rule.  At that
moment, it felt like there wasn't a single person in the room outside of the
KU staff and debaters who thought of us as anything but the enemy.  It was a
bad feeling.  I guess to some extent people might think of us as "the
enemy."  It's  unfortunate that some people gloat to us about how CEDA is a
terrible place for "our kind."  This year, I had one person tell us that we
(I think he meant KU and other "big" schools) just don't get it.   Get what?
Get that in a couple of rounds that we had to stand in as Goliath against a
couple of perceived Davids (Oklahoma, Towson x 2)?  I get it, and it makes a
wonderful story for everyone but us.

But here's the thing I had to realize: it's possible that they were
celebrating FOR Oklahoma and Towson and not particularly AGAINST us, except
to the extent that we helped make a nice storyline.  And the same is true
for Missouri State, et al.  After taking a thrashing at the hands to Towson,
it's ok for people to be happy when their friends beat them.  It's part of
life as a successful team.  People are happy when they beat you and at the
NDT they are VERY happy because their careers and the careers of their
friends are on the line.

Is debate racist?  I don't know.  I hope not, but it probably has racist
things about it.  I don't think that debating against Towson made KU racist
and I don't think that making our argument in favor of a certain kind of
debate is racist.  Towson might be right about a lot of things, but I don't
think that the celebrations of our friends' victories are any of them.

* *


PS: I think that David and Goliath analogy above is a nice storyline
only.  Anyone
who knows anything about the Oklahoma-KU match-ups last year knows that in
reality the situation was reversed.  And no one (I hope) thinks of KU as a
The Man in debate.  I just think that at CEDA we get cast in that role, for
better or for worse.
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