[eDebate] Tournament Structure

Morris, Eric R EricMorris
Thu Oct 23 11:51:16 CDT 2008

I am intrigued by both of Dallas' suggestions.
On releasing pairings for Rounds 5/6 early, I think it is easy to justify sleep when you know you are ready for the debate the next morning than when you are trying to be ready for one of several debates that could occur. Friday pairing release helps make Saturday more humane, and knowing the bracket Sunday night helps with Monday. I'm not sure that making Sat night the exception is useful. 
On decisions, I think the having the dissenter go last is coherent, given the model of how court decisions are structured. I think that judges, all of whom were pretty much former debaters, should be able to show the structure of their decision and highlight the key points in 6 minutes or less (that's all the rebuttalists get). Two minutes might be too tight in some cases. 
I really think the norms of the basic decision + winning team is free to leave and losing team can stick around and chat would be helpful. Two logistical concerns are whether the judges need to leave to help coach and whether the losing team needs to pack up to make room. Some solutions to these problems would make Dallas' suggest a real time saver. 
I also agree with Josh G that some decisions take too long. It is easy to have the process be timeless, even though we expect debaters to treat issues thoroughly under MUCH more time pressure. I am a repeat offender in this area, but there are others with far 'longer' rap sheets than I. I think the norm of growing impatience is better than a hard "decide now" dictate, particularly if a decision has been delayed by another judge taking off with the evidence or something. 
Here's something radical enough that I'm not even sure I support it:
I wonder if we would be better served by a norm where debaters give the judges access to a small number of contested cards before the round is over. That would change the activity some, and perhaps too much, but I think there are lots of decisions where it's hard to think through the resolution of other issues until after a couple of central issues related to evidence are resolved. Even giving this privilege for 3 cards (yours or opponents) might increase the quality of debate, quality of decisions, and speed of decisions. 
Dr. Eric Morris
Asst Prof of Communication & Director of Forensics
Craig Hall 366A, Dept of Communication
Missouri State University
Springfield, MO 65897
(O) 417-836-7636
(H) 417-865-6866
(C) 417-496-7141
AIM: ermocito, ericandtaleyna
GMAIL:ermocito at gmail.com (please use for large attachments)


From: edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com on behalf of Dallas Perkins
Sent: Thu 10/23/08 9:45 AM
To: edebate; EDEBATE at LIST.UVM.EDU
Cc: ceda-l at ndtceda.com
Subject: [eDebate] Tournament Structure

This is a very interesting discussion.  I agree with both sides.

One solution that everybody would like is to make the rounds go faster
without compromising prep and decision times.

I have two ideas on the subject, and I wonder what the community thinks
about them.

First, we could release the pairings for rounds five and six on Saturday
evening at 10PM, after most people are done with dinner.  This would not
keep people from staying up all night working, but it might at least mean
that they are well-prepared to begin both rounds punctually, with minimal
time between the two.  I wonder if the community sees this as a useful

Second, we could reshape the post-round discussion following elims.  As it
is, the minority judges usually speak first, telling the winners why they
really lost, then the majority judges tell the losers that in fact they
really lost, and everyone sits and listens and argues about it all.  This
can take upwards of forty-five minutes after contentious debates.  I
propose something like this:  after the decision is announced, each judge
delivers a brief summary decision, lasting no more than 2 minutes.  If the
winning team wishes to discuss specifics with any of the judges,
convention will allow them to go first, ask their questions, demand
amplification from the dissenters, whatever.  Once they are satisfied, it
will not be considered discourteous or otherwise inappropriate if one or
both of the winning debaters excuse themselves from further discussion and
get on with prepping for the next round.  Given this new convention, I
think that tournaments would be justified in pushing the schedule
considerably faster on elim day.  This is especially true at the
increasing number of tournaments where the elim bracket is published
Sunday night.

I would be very interested in community input on either of these schemes,
as we might try to implement one or both at Harvard this year.

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