[eDebate] Reactions to these threads

Morris, Eric R EricMorris
Thu Oct 23 17:08:02 CDT 2008

I want to echo one point Will just made - the importance of the expanded fr/so breakout. This feature of Wake is really exciting to me - not just because we often pair frosh with sophomores, but because it has the potential to be even more than 8 teams, depending on entries. 
One great thing about major tournaments is the availability of several more excellent judges than are needed for elim slots. Having some of those judges coaching & judging in breakout rounds seems a great idea. 
I also have another suggestion for a future breakout experiment - a C team breakout. Right now, up to 6 C teams can qualify to the NDT. Last year, as is often the case, they had VERY minimal rounds against each other. In the absence of a late reason round robin (which would be extremely cool), the option of designating a likely applicant C team as eligible for even a semis deep breakout would provide some good head to head data for voters to consider. Of course, some C teams clear regularly anyway, but there are lots of them missing on points while consistently winning 4 or 5 rounds. 
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 William J Repko
Sent: Thu 10/23/08 4:54 PM
To: edebate at ndtceda.com
Subject: [eDebate] Reactions to these threads

Good Discussion so far.

Some reactions:

1. Forum

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.

(http://cedadebate.org <http://cedadebate.org/> )

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
"developmental" pool.

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.

 -- Will

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