[eDebate] some comments re tournament rounds structure

Ross Smith smithr
Wed Oct 22 21:38:56 CDT 2008

The following are not meant to be exhaustive of the subject, but merit 

1) Debates now take 33% more time to conduct than they did when the 
8-round format was popularized (they have 33% more valuable content if 
you think pre-round prep, judge decisions that include careful 
inspection of evidence, and post-round discussion of the decision are of 
educational value), yet going from 6 to 8 prelims subtracts only 25%. 
Or, going from 5 to 8 adds 33%. 6 prelims now is what 8 used to be.

2) Stefan: let's just stop the tournament after semis since finals makes 
next to no difference to the Copeland?

3) Banquets are rare, but they matter. Our activity lacks good social 
time, good celebratory time. We honor a national coach of the year. That 
ceremony is meaningful, and not just for the person who wins it. The 
words spoken in praise resound and reflect on the efforts of all 
coaches. The words inspire and celebrate. "Just words"??

4) Audiences matter. Most of us learned a lot from watching elims we 
were not good enough to be in. Excessive prelim schedules and late night 
elim rounds result in tiny elim audiences. Stefan says only 7 people 
participate in the final round. That does not sound good to me. I 
envision big audiences for doubles in classrooms that are well suited to 
debate (as opposed to early morning cramped hotel rooms with a few 
people watching, half of whom fall asleep in the neg block). I envision 
relatively well rested people watching the Monday elims all of which 
have known starting times.

5) High quality elims matter. Especially when there is an audience. It 
helps the audience learn more, and helps the competitors. The final 
round should be the best round in the tournament. If not, why do we even 
use elims to determine the winner? S

6) We will have at least 40 teams in elims, 30% or so of the tournament.

7) There really seem to be two leaders as alts: this year's Shirley of 
6/doubles and the alt of 8/octas. The 8/octas was rejected 
overwhelmingly by the community at Ga. State and at Kentucky not so long 
ago: people clamorred for an extra elim round and all but forced it on 
those tournaments. Maybe folks are ready to rethink that. Good for us. 
Let's think. 7 rounds has problems of scheduling with a banquet and 
severe unfairness in side assignment.

8) Surprised no one has commented on the rules regarding elim judge 
decision time and post-round discussion time.

9) Total quality of the experience is not solely a function of the 
quantity of debates you are in.

10) Judges and coaches matter. A lot. What do we ask of them? What is a 
fair demand?

Ross K. Smith
Director of Debate
Wake Forest University

336-251-2076 (c)
336-758-5268 (o)


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