[eDebate] Reactions to these threads
William J Repko
Thu Oct 23 16:54:31 CDT 2008
Good Discussion so far.
Conversation is also happening on the cedablog ? in fact more discussion
of the MPJ/mutuality conversation is happening there.
Now is a good time figure out how to use that site (administrator?s code,
etc). Positive externalities ensue.
While it's new and different, doesn?t it make structural sense for the
organization to have a channel for discussions of this sort ?...
Your participation (at that site) aids that effort.
2. About 6 v. 8
a) Ross = right about history.
B. Hall once posted an anecdote about how it was shocking when Zarefsky took
20 minutes to decide the semis of the NDT (b/c it took so *long*). Much has
changed -- as nearly all NDT semis take much longer than 20 minutes to
The point is not the specific issue of decision length -- it's the broader
idea that we're currently using a schedule that is well-designed for 1983.
Over the ensuing 25 years, when GOOD evolutions have been suggested (more
feedback, more pre-round prep, etc), the remedy has been to slightly
lengthen the day. Something probably has to give. If so, then the
meta-question is whether the change should come in practice or in
scheduling. Wake, at a minimum, seems a very positive experiment.
b) My own experience
I remember the first time we went to Cal (6 rd tourney). As a card-carrying
member of the "debate-all-the-time, being-nuts-is-good" club, I shared the
reservations that are currently being placed on the table.
...However, I was shocked at how much I enjoyed the 6 round format. I was
shocked at how much THE STUDENTS enjoyed it. I was shocked at how much it
improved everyone's mood.
The slight tweak I'd recommend to Kevin's call for a referendum is to
consider having said referendum AFTER we've lived through the world of 2
less debates. The hidden upsides might surprise us.
c) Quality of Process/Life.
I don't judge as well at the end of long days. I don't coach as well either.
My debaters debate considerably worse in rounds 5 and 8.
I attribute much of this to exhaustion.
Try the following experiment -- look for little moments of exhaustion that
can reasonably be attributed to lengthy days. When I have looked for this,
I've noticed: my own irritation at the little things and (bad) hasty
decisions by judges or debaters that are looking for some way to shorten the
This is particularly true during elim # 5... but is not untrue for prelim
d) Phillips says: "Walk it off"...
My concern is "drive it off".
It sounds like one of those annoying high-ground appeals -- but the truth is
that safe driving may well be the most important part of my job. Driving
back from UK (conventional 8 rd. schedule) was not safe. A long Sat, Sun,
and Monday all contributed to that.
e) The specific context of Wake
Concerns that 25% fewer debates hurts the development of younger debaters
are understandable. But, I think some of these reservations do not
contextualize as well to the WFU tourney -- here's why:
1. Wake is clearing at least 20% of the frosh-soph pool -- maybe as much as
a full octa, and almost certainly all of the 3-3 teams (with this
The return/expansion of this separate elim bracket is only feasible in a
world where CLASSROOMS (instead of conference rooms) are in play. Scheduling
the 1st wave of elims on the campus facilitates this. I would add that the
community needs mechanisms to "positively track" younger students from
schools of all sizes. An elim of any kind generates exposure and hallway
buzz. I feel the conversation has, up to this point, under-estimated how
Ross's scheduling adjustment has facilitated the growth of these "break-out"
2. Wake has qualification procedures -- making it, overall, less of a
MSU -- for the first time since 1996 -- is taking only two teams to the WFU
tourney. That's b/c we have only two teams that fulfilled their "must break
at two tourneys requirement".
To the extent that I am concerned about 25% fewer debates, it's a
developmental concern for our teams that are currently not able to clear in
varsity divisions. Those teams, however, don't pass the entry hoop.
I am not writing to rail against those requirements -- they're a necessary
evil for a very popular tourney. And, I do understand that not all teams
have to meet those requirements (two team guarantee, etc).
But, if there were a spectrum, WFU's entry requirements slightly tilt the
composition of the pool away from "developmental" and slightly towards "the
most experienced teams that participating schools can possibly bring".
To make a long story short -- I'd err towards supporting an 8 rd tourney
when it is a novice/JV division. Quantity is at a higher premium.
But, when the pool is less-developmental, quality may be at a higher
premium. "Quality" means a lot of things but likely includes items that make
the day longer (pre-round prep, longer decisions, longer oral critiques,
Given that the composition of the WFU tourney is ultimately somewhat
heterogeneous -- expansion of breakout divisions, coupled with sacrifices
that allow for (time consuming) "quality of debate issues" to continue seems
to be a pretty good permutation.
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