[eDebate] Fall Out & The High School World

michael hester uwgdebate
Mon Aug 18 16:06:44 CDT 2008

actually, i'm  more confused now than i was by your original post.

granted, i do delete quite a few posts without reading them, but i haven't
seen a single person saying what happened was a good thing or saying that it
does no harm. i can agree that your perspective was somewhat (maybe
completely, maybe partially) underrepresented in the discussion.

then again, this is a college debate messageboard (despite JW's 411's on the
latest Fellows debate). it's not completely unreasonable that a forum
devoted to college debate might be slanted toward the impacts this event had
for college debate, right? even so, Tara's post summed up quite succinctly
the problems this has created for high school coaches.

other than Kevin "Dirty" Sanchez, everyone else seems to be very sympathetic
to the plight of the high school coach who is struggling to deal with this
problem - which yall had zero control over and have no real ability to solve
for. that sucks. and i don't say that patronizingly. it really does. part of
why it sucks is b/c being a high school coach sucks in the sense that the
high school coach has to not only persuade administrators and manage
students, but also must deal with parents. some (many? most?) of whom are
not real keen on calm reasoning when it comes to making sure their child is
protected from stuff they find objectionable (an attitude that i myself
don't find all that hard to understand). when i tell people why i love
college debate, one of the top  reasons is the very fact that i get to coach
adults, not minors, and thus avoid (for the most part) the "parent trap."

my initial response was an attempt to provide you with an alternative
approach - rather than defend what happened, try and contextualize it. i
suppose i was reading too much into your post to assume that you were
searching for some advice on that matter. my bad.

but i did so, because otherwise, the point of your post - made more
emphatically in this follow-up - appears to be "hey dummies, yall are
screwing up my ability to have a debate program, stop doing stupid shit"

and while i can appreciate that point, it hardly requires re-statement.
especially when no one is advocating that what happened was a good thing.

WE GET IT. this video is embarrassing to a lot of people. what happened has
created a lot of problems via ripple effect for a lot of people who had no
idea it happened and now feel pretty darn frustrated that they have to
answer for it.

no one in the college community is saying "yay mooning! yay calling people
assholes! let's make sure that happens again and again!" so posts from the
perspectives of high school coaches who are pissed off  - while grounded in
legitimate complaint ("why yall gotta go and create extra work for me") -
are now bordering on superfluous. repetition is not refutation.

as i stated in my response to D Glass, the perspective of those outside of
our college debate community is limited because it's an outside perspective.
no one is saying your complaints don't matter. they do matter. but so does
the careers of our peers. the lives of our friends. so when we talk about
this issue, we're not just speaking about how we're gonna promote the
activity. we're also talking about how we can defend our coaching brothers
and sisters from administrators who want to fire them.

this isn't about "preempting" this argument or "controlling uniqueness" of
that argument. this is about real people who are suffering right now. i'll
ask no pardon for caring more about them right now than i do about the
upcoming Open House where you may have to answer questions that you have
every right to be upset at having to answer.

yes, your perspective as a high school coach has not been at the center of a
college debate forum's discussion of an event that happened at a college
tournament. and until i know that the people with whom i've worked with and
known for 20 years are going to be okay, it's not going to be at the center
of any of my thoughts on the matter. and i'm very comfortable with that.

it happened. it stinks. deal with it. none of us are hoping it happens
again. we'll try and deal with it. despite the cries of any parent (even my
own), it doesn't warrant someone losing their job.


On Mon, Aug 18, 2008 at 4:29 PM, McNeil Debate <mcneil.debate at gmail.com>wrote:

> I anticipated that my ability to be an effective communicator and
> coach would be called into question.  I even preempted it, apparently
> to little avail.  To everyone offering advice, thank you.  However, it
> seems like my post is being received as a call for help.  It's not; my
> purpose was plainly stated in the beginning of the post.  My goal was
> to provide a perspective that I felt was underrepresented.
> To address the ideas for help:  First, I have a squad handbook that
> I'm quite proud of.  It includes a detailed section on substance
> abuse, including cigarettes.  Second, my persuasive abilities in
> regards to parents and adminstrators are fine; if they weren't, my
> program wouldn't exist.  I'm more than aware of how to talk to
> parents, and I'm not so braindead as to not defend an activity I've
> chosen as a career.  Nowhere in my original post did I say that I had
> no idea how to move forward, or how to talk to my parents, or that I
> thought the video represented all of collegiate debate.  Third, my
> agenda for my parent meeting containing a discussion of this event
> won't change for two reasons.  First, I know that some parents already
> know about this.  Second, I would rather that those in the dark hear
> from me before seeing the video, because I trust my ability to provide
> perspective much more than a news story or the video proper.
> I find the reference to my geographic location problematic.  Texas
> supports TWO state organizations in speech and debate, including the
> oldest state organization of its kind.  Texas has 12 NFL Districts.
> As a state, we will have over 100 high school debate tournaments this
> season.  The success of Texas competitors in all forensic events
> nationwide is nothing short of phenomenal.  If we are not the state
> with the most programs, we're certainly close.  My first argument is
> that what is happening in Texas programs can't be shooed away simply
> because the number of kids that compete here is so large.
> Sure, football is king.  There are certainly more violent brawls at
> football games than debate tournaments.  My second argument, however,
> is that it's a moot point.  My kid's parents don't care about football
> games, because it's not where their kids are on the weekends.  They
> care about debate tournaments.  Are reactionary parents in the wrong?
> Are they being illogical?  Are they overinvolved?  Are they naive?  It
> doesn't matter; their reactions are what they are, and high school
> directors face a reality in that avoiding them is, as Dr. Glass puts
> it, suicide.
> I preempted this argument as well.  Again, labeling my parents as
> reactionary or saying that I should be better at my job to persuade
> them belies the point.  There are multiple high school directors
> posting here that are telling you that it is a reality that dealing
> with parents can be one of the toughest parts of our job.  Even for
> those of us that consider the relationship with our students' parents
> good, it can be incredibly difficult at times.
> I don't understand where the offense is here.  For parents that are
> already deeply invested in their kid's lives, ESPECIALLY those parents
> that can be "reactionary" or "unrealistic," it seems like I control
> the uniqueness as there's only a risk of those parents being put off
> more by what has happened.  Seriously, would one of these types of
> parents see the video or read a news article about the incident and
> say, "I gotta get my kid to more tournaments!"?
> I can and will do everything in my power to make sure that my parents
> understand that what they read and see is not representative of high
> school or college debate, because I know it's not.  But to argue that
> Texas parents don't matter, or that I should just tell them to chill
> out, suggests that there's little understanding of what it is that
> some high school coaches have to deal with.
> And that proves that the reason I wrote the letter in the first place
> was valid, and in my opinion, necessary.  This viewpoint is not only
> underrepresented, it's misunderstood.  I don't have any animosity
> towards anyone that posts here, but what I'm reading is making it
> clear that the fallout goes beyond what some people understand.
> Murrell
> Postscript:  And then there's this.  I just got back from a staff
> meeting.  One of the assistant band directors at my high school had
> people in his office, circled around his computer, laughing.  I walked
> in, and they were watching the video on Youtube.  One turned and
> asked, "Hey the debate coach!  This is hilarious!  Have you seen
> this?!"  On a campus where I fight for every bit of recognition and
> funding for my kids that I can get, this is what our activity gets
> boiled down to.  Can I persuade them otherwise?  Yes.  Can I point
> them to other videos?  Yes.  Can I prove to them that that's not the
> environment my kids compete in?  Yes.  Absent intervention by me,
> however, none of that would have happened.  Crazy serendipity.  But
> hey, I guess it doesn't matter.
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