[eDebate] On 7 Round Tournaments

Katherine Lavelle lenehan20
Mon Oct 19 19:16:24 CDT 2009

For UNI, we have a few reasons for the 8 round tournament:
1. For many of the competitors, it's their first tournament of the year. If you can get 8 rounds in at the first tournament, it's a good jump start on the year of competition. I guess that supports Kevin's argument that since most teams won't be in the elim rounds, we wanted to offer the most competition to the most students. 2. It allows us to have a novice workshop, as well as 6 full rounds of prelims for our new debaters. 3. As many of you know, UNI isn't close to much else besides corn. Iowa is the closest school, and beyond that, most people are putting in a 6-8 hour drive to reach our tournament. Based on some conversations I had with coaches during the tournament, if we were going to move to a 6 round format, it would not make the tournament worth the drive.  We can't get into most of our classrooms until after 4 on Friday, and given the drive, it would be hard to expect schools to take all of Thursday off to do the drive.4. We had lunch on campus on Sunday afternoon, which allowed us to shorten the time between round 6-7 since everyone was on campus. 
For us, we actually added 15 minutes in between each round because it was the first tournament of the year, there is some lag time getting between two of our competition buildings, and we found that on Sunday night, our tournament ended around 8:30pm, which is about the same time that it ended last year on Sunday with a tighter schedule. We had four elims and awards on Monday, and our open finals ended around 8:30 or 9 on Monday. We are pretty vigilant about getting rounds started on time, as well as getting ballots, maybe that helps?
I agree that we are probably away from the days that each tournament is 8 rounds, but I think having some 8 round tournaments is good practice, and is also helpful for students trying to make sure that have varsity eligibility for the NDT. 
Katherine L. Lavelle

Director of Forensics
University of Northern Iowa 

You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Don't be resigned to that. Break out! ? Mr. Keating, Tom Schulman Dead Poets Society

> From: kkuswa at richmond.edu
> To: gregachten at berkeley.edu; ralph.paone at gmail.com
> Date: Thu, 15 Oct 2009 15:37:41 -0400
> CC: edebate at ndtceda.com
> Subject: Re: [eDebate] On 7 Round Tournaments
> Hi all,
> 7 rounds in the current structure does not work very well for the majority of the tournament.  Ralph's post was dead on.
> 8 prelims with travel and debate on different days at the beginning is the superior schedule if done right.  Maybe not national, but our tournament approaches 100 teams and Wayne and UNI all have 8 rounds.
> Add that to NDT, Harvard, and CEDA Nationals and there are still a number of tournaments (I'm sure I am missing some) that are 8 rounds, including some District tournaments.
> 7 rounds is a terrible compromise--Greg is right on about that--but I am not sure 6 really solves the problem (especially given the arguments that more debates are generally better, we do come to tournaments to debate, and the majority of participants do not compete after out-rounds begin).
> Our compromise to the long day on Monday will be to only clear 16 teams in each of 3 divisions instead of the "exactly half" rule that the ADA encourages (but does not mandate).
> There is an important place for 6-round regional tournaments and that makes up a bulk of our schedule, but the national (or larger regional) tournaments looking to have the full prelim experience and a reasonable day of elims for all the competitors can still do well with the 8 round prelim format.
> At the Spider tournament, we had 8 prelims (or 7 and a teach-in for novices) for almost 100 teams and 5 elims on Monday--but not just "5 elims overall"--five elims in Open and in Novice and 4 elims in JV.  For the second elim round we used 60 judges and more than half the teams at the tournament were able to compete on the third day.  The tournament was over by 10:00 or 11:00 at night on Monday.  There are improvements we can make (we plan to release the full bracket Sunday night as well as the specific judges needed in the morning -- in addition to limiting the elims to 16 teams per division unless a division gets bigger than 40).
> Thanks to Ralph and Greg for their posts and I hope the conversation continues on this.
> Sincerely,
> Kevin 
> ________________________________________
> From: edebate-bounces at ndtceda.com [edebate-bounces at ndtceda.com] On Behalf Of gregachten at berkeley.edu [gregachten at berkeley.edu]
> Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 12:27 AM
> To: Ralph Paone
> Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com
> Subject: Re: [eDebate] On 7 Round Tournaments
> I too have been thinking about this a great deal and spent a long time at
> Kentucky talking to people about this very issue and was actually planning
> on posting to edebate sometime this week so I thank Ralph for motivating
> me to sit down and write this.
> As many of you know I am a big advocate of 6 round tournaments. I think in
> general 8 round tournaments with 5 elims on Monday are an anachronism from
> a time when debates actually took 2 hours and we could start at 8 AM and
> be done by 7 PM. Of course the heightened complexity of debates and the
> extended decision making times that have corresponded along with the
> increased demands for pre-round preparation have made this model largely
> obsolete. I think there is an emerging consensus in the community that 8
> round tournaments are not healthy for the community, witness that among
> the major national tournaments only Harvard, CEDA and the NDT maintain 8
> prelims and two of those are 4 day tournaments and Harvard only clears to
> an octafinal.
> However in response to the desire to shorten tournaments many directors
> have decided to move to 7 rounds. After reflecting on this for some time,
> I have come to believe that 7 round tournaments are the worst possible
> compromise. I think they reduce the number of prelim rounds while making
> the schedule net worse for the overwhelming majority of the tournament
> participants. ]
> In a typical 7 round tournament, the first day consists of 4 prelims,
> meaning that there is no difference between a 7 and 8 round tournament.
> The second day of a 7 round tournament however is MUCH worse for all of
> the participants. In a typical 8 round tournament there are 4 debates,
> round 6 is a lag-powered round so only 2 real power matching breaks exist.
> With 7 round tournaments there are 3 prelims on day 2, all of which are
> directly power matched meaning that the day is automatically already
> longer. Then the final debate is not just an elim, but typically the
> double octa-final. As someone who runs a lot of tabrooms I can assure you
> this is the most difficult debate to place judges in and is often the most
> time consuming debate to pair. Added to this is the fact that elim debates
> generally take longer to decide and that there is usually an awards
> ceremony before the start of the doubles. At Kentucky, our team arrived at
> the school at 7:00 AM on Sunday and did leave campus until 11 PM, making
> this a 16 hour day at the school. This is far worse than day 2 at 8 round
> tournaments and this day effects everyone at the tournament. Day 3 is
> clearly better in that there are only 4 elims, but it is really only net
> better for the 7 people who are involved in the finals and even that is a
> subjective claim since all of those people are far more tired than they
> typically would be on elim day since day 2 was so much longer than usual.
> This should not be read as an argument in favor of 8 round tournaments. My
> position is clearly that as a community we need to assess how much stress
> we are putting on our students and ourselves and I think that short of
> placing substantial limits on decision making time the only workable
> solution is the 6 round tournament. I agree with Ralph that switching to 6
> rounds at makes it more likely that points will determine who clears and
> who does not and that experimenting with a 100 point scale while
> shortening tournaments and increasing the importance of points doesn't
> make sense.
> I do think that this is an issue we need to confront as a community and
> discuss. If anyone is interested I have a really good frontline in favor
> of 6 round tournaments, but I wanted to focus on what I feel are the
> problems with 7 rounds in this post.
> Greg
> > In the spirit of ranks that nobody will ever respond to (Hi Whit and
> > D-Lo)..
> >
> > I suppose this post is a reaction to a trend I've noticed on e-Debate
> > regarding tournament safety and some things that I noticed over the
> > weekend
> > while at the Clay.
> >
> > My overall point (the short version) is this:  Debate is good. Shortening
> > tournament length decrease Debate, and that is bad (part 1).  If we are
> > going to make smaller schedules the norm, we should reevaluate the
> > structure
> > of the prelims (part 2).
> >
> > Part I - Against Shortening Tournament Length
> >
> > There seems to be a trend towards having fewer prelim rounds at
> > tournaments.  A number of arguments are given in support of this claim,
> > but
> > few are very well explained. Among them are....     Perhaps the best
> > argument that I've heard for having fewer rounds is that debaters will be
> > less tired at the end of the tournament, resulting in better elim day
> > debates for those involved and less fatigue for all debaters returning
> > home
> > to the school work they have put off for the past couple days or weeks. In
> > its strongest articulation, the argument for shortening tournament length
> > has focused on the need to improve the general tournament atmosphere,
> > making
> > debate tournaments more habitable for all.  Those who began the movement
> > for
> > shorter tournament -- those to whom I am indebted to and far less wise
> > than
> > -- seemed to notice a troubling tide of over-exhaustion, isolation, and
> > general grumpiness at tournaments.  Although I am in general supportive of
> > measures that make tournaments more inviting and community-building, I am
> > not yet convinced that shortening tournament length is the appropriate
> > response, and I hope that other solutions will continue to be experimented
> > with.
> >
> > On face, the argument that we should shorten debate tournaments because
> > people get too tired just seems silly.  I'm sure, for example, that
> > basketball players get extremely tired during the course of a regular
> > season
> > game and even more exhausted during a play-off series or a long trip on
> > the
> > road.  The solution to this fatigue, however, is not to shorten the length
> > of quarters or the number of games being played during the season.
> > Instead,
> > coaches encourage their players to live a lifestyle off the court that
> > enables them to adequately handle the stress of the game.  Debaters are
> > not
> > just exhausted after a tournament because they had an 8th debate, they are
> > exhausted because they've been working on little sleep for days/weeks
> > before
> > the tournament, and often up late enjoying themselves each night of the
> > tournament.  Neither of those problems are eliminated by having one less
> > debate. Some might argue that the shorter schedule puts less stress on
> > coaches.  Admittedly, I do not know a lot about being a coach, and am
> > perhaps ignorant and in need of a schooling. In my opinion, having 1 fewer
> > debate does little to alleviate coach fatigue except for the coaches of
> > doubles teams who do not have to stay up late preparing for doubles.  I
> > don't know what about having one fewer debate causes coaches who stay up
> > all
> > night cutting cards (you know who you are) to suddenly decide that they
> > shouldn't do that and should instead go to sleep.  Similar to student
> > fatigue, coach fatigue seems a "problem" of personal decisions made by
> > individual coaches and the ethos of competition that courses through the
> > debate community. * From a debater perspective, I'd much rather have
> > another
> > debate than feel marginally less tired Tuesdays after tournaments. I'm
> > sure
> > those who could have cleared 5-3 but didn't because they were 4-3 would
> > agree with me on this*. I have never heard a good answer to the argument
> > that shortening tournament length denies the majority of teams an extra
> > debate in the name of preserving the energy levels of the select few
> > debating on elim day.
> >
> > I am also curious where the data for the 'we're so tired please don't make
> > us debate another round' argument is coming from.  Have any tournaments
> > provided participants with a survey of whether or not they would rather
> > debate an additional round or feel less tired on Monday/Tuesday?  I would
> > be
> > curious to hear thoughts on this, as I might be in the minority.  In any
> > case, it would be interesting if tournaments began posing these sorts of
> > questions to the participants (judges, debaters, and coaches alike).
> >
> > Part II - Revising Prelim Structure for the Short Schedule
> >
> > If we're going to be shortening tournaments, I think it is absolutely
> > paramount that tab rooms alter the prelim structure to reflect this
> > change.
> > I enjoyed my time in Kentucky this past weekend, but the notion of having
> > 4
> > preset rounds in a 7 round tournament is *PATENTLY ABSURD*.  There is
> > simply
> > not enough time in the three following rounds to effectively derive the
> > top
> > 32 teams via rigorous competition.  This is particularly troubling given
> > that most critics are still getting used to the 100 pt scale.  Speaker
> > points are more important than ever, but the norms dictating what certain
> > points mean are less certain than ever.
> >
> > This problem is probably solved by beginning to power-match debates after
> > 2
> > or 3 rounds, and I hope that such a practice is adopted for future large
> > national tournaments that decide to shorten their schedules. (I am aware
> > of
> > course that many smaller tournament already pair prelims like this; I
> > think
> > that Wake did last year?)..
> >
> > As a side note, I think it sort of sucks that teams can go 5-2 at a
> > tournament and still not clear, but maybe there's not much to be done
> > about
> > that.
> >
> > Responses and clarifications would be extremely appreciated,
> >
> > -Ralph
> > _______________________________________________
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> > eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
> > http://www.ndtceda.com/mailman/listinfo/edebate
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