[eDebate] The Big Picture

Ede Warner ewarner
Fri Mar 21 19:40:42 CDT 2008

Bored after watching UCONN mess up my bracket, so I thought I'd send a rejoiner to Jason's post.  In the newest reality show, "Celebrity Rehab", the patients have a food fight.  Seth says, "throwing food has nothing to do with my sobriety."  Every expert on the show disagrees.  "Jason says that pies have nothing to do with the larger systemic problems of CEDA, and Ede is just scare mongering."  The history of debate offers strong empirical evidence proving that Jason's desire to stick his head in the sand, is just that, avoiding the truth hoping it will go away.  The evidence that he should perhaps pick it up...
CEDA membership is currently 119 schools.
CEDA membership reached a high of 275 schools in 1983-84.
NDT membership is 114 schools.
NDT was over 300 in the late sixties.
Both were at their highest before MPJ.
Over 100 HCBU's never joined CEDA or the NDT.
When I debated, many if not most debate programs were in Comm departments, ran by Phds.
Now, most run by Master's degrees and many are at risk as student organizations or clubs.
The entire organization attempted to grab PR and advertising for connections to the Great Debaters--some in ethical ways accurately describing similarities and differences between what they did in the interracial debates and what really occurs in today's debate--while others were less forthcoming with truthful comparisons.  Of course, a healthy organization would have less motivation for such questionable actions.
That's just the tip of the iceberg.  And let me pre-empt a few claims.  Gordon's recent post: there are more teams debating, just at fewer schools.  Yep.  I suspect that may create a short term salvation for traditional policy debate.  But in the end, a 20 school debate organization is going to run into some serious problems.  How many athletic sports exist for only 20 schools?  Any extra-curricular?  You do the math.  
Debate organizations currently hide behind creative use of numbers and the ability to create deception even inside their own organizations.  Try explaining why NDT/CEDA has no less than 12 national championship tournaments.  I told a reporter we were going to "3" a couple of years ago and that got 5 follow-up questions. 
Of course, none of this addresses the diversity issues, but hey, one molehill at a time.
A pie in the face isn't the problem, just a symptom of it.  Your attempts to describe today's CEDA/NDT as healthy is not grounded in historical or empirical evidence and is self-serving.
I know most of you disagree, so unless you are brining facts, please don't harass me without them.  Thanks.
Ede Warner, Jr.
Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
University of Louisville
308E Strickler Hall
e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu 


From: "Jason Russell" <jasonlrussell1 at gmail.com>
To:<edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 3/21/2008 07:36 PM
Subject: Re: [eDebate] Context and Appropriateness
Bored during prep time, so I thought Id drop my two cents on Ede's post: read this carefully. The pie has nothing to do with policy vs. K, or narrow vs. broad conceptions of debate. This argument, Im certain, was not T: You dont have a pie on your face. I've refused this temptation by my "policy-oriented" friends, and I refuse it when my buddies on the left-leaning end of debate suggest it also: there is no upcoming re-splitting of debate. That's silly scare-mongering. You could have said the same thing about CEDA teams that started reading plans vs. those that didnt, NDT teams that were running CPs vs. old school hypo-testings, or any other major shift in the orientation of debate. Plenty of people still dont run K's and win, plenty of people do and win, and there's some people who do neither and win also. We do have a big tent. This suggestion that either we do things my way, solve x, y, z problems, or debate will murder itself is intellectual hostage-holding. Resist it. It's false.
I don't think pie throwing is smart. I think it's dumb. Im sorry it's insensitive. I'd probably be willing to vote on "this is insensitive; that's bad" if coupled with some warranted arg about why it's dumb, but Im with Malgor that legislating debate arguments is bad. This is the authorization for the split youre afraid of. It's exactly what youre opposed to. And that's mostly what Malgor was saying. And, I think what Skip was saying is also really important: kids need to learn how to beat these "arguments" (in the loosest sense) with their words, not with legislation. It shouldn't be hard; throwing pies is a facilely stupid tactic of resistance. No evidence ought to be required. 
Pies arent funny. They're dumb. Therefore easy to beat. Kids thinking good. And, most importantly, debate is not dying.
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