[eDebate] Sick Debaters, Travel, and Bid Applications

Sue Peterson bk2nocal
Sun Sep 20 12:45:40 CDT 2009

All of this is true of 90% or more of us in the debate community this
weekend...I appreciate your willingness to so bluntly describe it and
question it.  A bold move on your part...I would be interested in discussing
solutions - here is what I can think of:

1)  shorten times of speeches for debates - go back to the 8-3-5 model of
old CEDA and high school debate - it seems like a small change, but over the
course of a weekend, it cuts out quite a bit of time.

2)  shorten prep times.  in this age of electronic research, files, etc. it
seems to me that many of the reasons that made longer prep times necessary
in the past (having to go through paper files, needing to hand write so much
of your speech, etc.) are no longer there and with the disclosure going on
through caselists, etc. rarely are we surprised by what other teams say in a
round.  Again, seems like a small change - 10 to 8 minutes or 7 minutes -
but equally impacts both teams and over the course of a weekend saves quite
a bit of time.

3)  shorten decision-times.  this topic seems like it has been hashed,
rehashed and rehashed again.  and maybe it isn't as big of a problem anymore
(I wasn't around much last year, so maybe people got the message and
decisions are now shorter?), but it seems to me that really causes a lot of
the stretching in tournament times, esp on elim days.

4)  stricter start times.  I will admit that I am guilty of this - in fact,
we just started a round 15 minutes late and both teams had coaches in
talking to them (one of whom should have been judging in a different round)
right up until the judges kicked us out of the room.  most of us are
probably guilty of not leaving a room while coaching until someone kicks us
out, even when we have a ballot for a different round.  This seems like a
community norm - I'm not sure how to change it other than talking forfeits -
which I would hate to do (why punish the team for the coaches problems), but
competitively speaking it may force people to do more to honor the start

5)  more pre-sets.  This one I don't really like because it can really skew
a tournament.  But, it is an option, so I thought I would list it.  It is
especially time-consuming (in combination with some of the above this may
become unnecessary - I think length of pairing rounds is often negatively
effected by decision time, start delays, etc.).

6)  less rounds.  We've already made the change at Wake (who took a lot of
heat for it, but took the risk and went ahead and did it - seems that people
are still going), maybe all of our tournaments need to be six round
tournaments?  Less elims?  Maybe we need to break less teams?  I think this
would be sad, but it may be necessary.

7)  less tournaments and four day schedules.  I can see a world where we
value the tournament experience for quality not quantity.  Right now, my
schedule has six tournaments on it between September and November - that is
two tournaments per month...and the Spring is about the same or worse
between January and March.  We have a very compact schedule (we really only
debate six months of the year, but many of us go to more than 12 tournaments
during that time).  Maybe we need to have less tournaments with more rounds
and go over four days.  If missing school is an argument, we miss as much
school to leave on Fridays or return on Mondays for these myriad of
tournaments.  We could go to six tournaments instead of twelve and start on
Friday and finish on Monday, with shorter days during that duration of each
tournament.  This seems better for sleep, eating and immune systems.

8) shorter season.  Maybe we need to do the reverse.  Maybe we should only
debate during the Spring semester - start in January - push the national
tournaments back to April or early May and fit it all in.  We could have two
fall tournaments as "warm-ups" (like exhibition games) on the topic or
something, but it seems to me we are literally the ONLY competitive activity
in college that competes during both semesters for a large part of both of
those semesters.  How do sports etc get it done?  They compete every weekend
for a full semester and then have their national tournaments/games.  It
would make for a rough Spring semester, but a nice, open Fall semester...It
would allow students to load up units in the fall and take a lighter
schedule in the Spring...It may even allow those with releases to use more
in the Spring and have even a lighter load during that semester.  Or we
could do it in the fall and have the National tournaments during the month
of January/early February...

I don't know if any of these are good ideas, but I will offer them as a
discussion starting point.  They are just things I've thought up as ideas -
I don't even like all of them necessarily.  But, I think we are realizing
that something may need to change...


Sue Peterson, Director of Speech and Debate at CSU Chico
sepeterson at csuchico.edu

Please help me raise money for the Ronald McDonald House in Stanford, where
me and my family spent more than four months during the last year!

On Sun, Sep 20, 2009 at 4:37 AM, Steinberg, David L <dave at miami.edu> wrote:

> a rant!
> I am sitting in a classroom at Georgia State University at 7:15 am, my head
> pounding.
> We left the hotel at 6:30.  Yesterday we began a little later, leaving at
> 7:00.  Cruel trick to start the second day earlier than the first.  And we
> live in this time zone.  For west coast people, it is 4:00 am.  I sacrificed
> my typical oatmeal and fruit breakfast for more sleep, a sugary donut
> instead.  After a long day with short breaks filled with round preparation
> (shoveled in some fast food during the 45 minutes we had for lunch) we
> completed our day and left the tournament around 8:45 pm, excellent by
> debate standards.  Selfishly, I took the team for a sit down meal, and then
> foolessly indulged in watching some of the Auburn football game on TV.
>  Self-indulgent, but it was Saturday night!  A mistake.  One beer with
> dinner.  I feel like I have smoked a carton of cigarettes (and I quit 12
> years ago).  Another donut.
> Sleep deprivation, poor food, cigarette smoke, no exercise.  OK, the high
> levels of mental/psychological stress reasonably go with the territory, but
> the physical stress is mostly unnecessary, its a choice we make in designing
> our activity.
> And our students need to return to class and schoolwork on Monday or
> Tuesday, with substantially more pressure than other students who have not
> missed classes or sacrificed schoolwork time for debate work.
> Are we concerned about the health of our participants?  Surprised when our
> immune systems do not fight off the flu?  I do not think so.
> David L. Steinberg
> Director of Debate, Lecturer in Communication Studies
> University of Miami
> PO Box 248127
> Coral Gables, FL  33124
> FLW 3015
> 305-284-5553
> 204-385-5216 (fax)
> dave at miami.edu
> http://debate.miami.edu/
> ________________________________________
> From: ceda-l-bounces at www.ndtceda.com [ceda-l-bounces at www.ndtceda.com] On
> Behalf Of Darren Elliott [delliott at KCKCC.EDU]
> Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 11:03 PM
> To: JP Lacy; Galloway, Ryan W.
> Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com; ceda-l at ndtceda.com
> Subject: Re: [CEDA-L] [eDebate] Sick Debaters, Travel, and Bid Applications
> Don't risk a Forced Choice by Administrators of Non-Competition for others
> and yourself down the road.  This issue is larger than you might think.  I
> sat in on a legislative session this week where illness and N1H1 was a hot
> topic.  University AD's and Officials are contacting each other (and being
> directed to) and putting in place contingency plans should an outbreak
> occur.  The contingency plan in KS would appear to be to cancel games,
> tournaments, and events to prevent outbreaks.  I'm sure KS is not the only
> State, and the MIAA, NAIA, and NCAA Big 12 are not the only conferences with
> this in mind.  No doubt this will trickle down to non-athletic events if
> Colleges and Universities shut their doors to prevent the sickness from
> getting out.  Not to sound alarm bells, but its high on the priority list of
> those making decisions above all of us.  Dont risk not only the health of
> yourself and others, but entire tournaments being shut down.
> I think Sarah put it best, we should be more kind to ourselves and those
> around us than we have been in the past.
> chief
> Darren Elliott
> Director of Debate and Forensics
> Kansas City Kansas Community College
> ________________________________________
> From: edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com [edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com] On
> Behalf Of JP Lacy [lacyjp at wfu.edu]
> Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 9:27 PM
> To: Galloway, Ryan W.
> Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com
> Subject: Re: [eDebate] Sick Debaters, Travel, and Bid Applications
> Wake misses competing at our tournament every year. So does every other
> squad that hosts a "major" national tournament.
> It is hard for debaters to give up an opportunity to compete. Many would
> give an organ to clear at a tournament. We need to get better at showing
> people that debate isn't worth hurting themselves or others over.
> I agree with Ryan that we should "cut people some slack" if they miss a
> tournament due to illness, injury or other contingencies.
> After all, hosting schools get that "slack" every year.
> -- JP
> Galloway, Ryan W. wrote:
> > I think Sam and Sue raise a good point.  I would like to point out the
> counter-vailing tendency among debaters however, especially those that might
> be in contention for a 1st/2nd round bid.
> >
> > When I debated, I debated at the Redlands tournament my senior year when
> I was extremely ill.  I could barely navigate a flight of stairs.  I could
> not physically lift a tub (Gordon carried them all, and I forgot my promise
> that I would carry them at the next tournament).  Frankly, I was miserable
> the whole weekend and likely a severe infestation risk.
> >
> > When confronted about this question "why are you debating?" by Sherry
> Hall and Rebecca Tushnet, I remember weakly replying "that our bid was not
> high enough."  A rationale that made sense at age 20, an insane rationale at
> age 36.
> >
> > I think debaters, coaches, and rankers of bids should be especially
> cognizant of the way certain tournaments are viewed on the bid sheets.  I
> would encourage all to take a reasonable perspective of the situation,
> especially if estimates (like the one given at our university) that 30% of
> the population could get the swine flu this season.  Let's cut some people
> some slack if they don't have Kentucky or another tournament on their bid
> sheet that is a "must attend" tournament for a bid sheet.
> >
> > Take care of your health.  Be reasonable about the situation.  It's a
> debate tournament, you'll have more down the road.
> >
> > RG
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> >
> >
> >
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