[eDebate] FW: Sick Debaters, Travel, and Bid Applications

Steinberg, David L dave
Sun Sep 20 20:12:29 CDT 2009

1.  My rant is not a criticism of Joe Bellon and the GSU folks who provide phenomenal service to the debate community through their willingness to host tournaments (2 a year forever..), and do their best to give us what we ask for.  I do not even mean to criticize the Krispy Kreme donuts, which are clearly a guilty pleasure....  Dinner tonight was EXCELLENT!!!  Still tired, but much happier than this morning.  Tasty home style food with healthy and guilty choices.  Love the ATL and appreciate Joe and his crew despite the brutal nature of the tournament experience, its not their fault.
2.  Talked today to a friend who no longer coaches debate.  He mocked me about reading my post this morning as he enjoyed his breakfast and morning paper with his family at home.
3.  Still, though, it will be at least 11:00 pm before we get back to the hotel.  Thats a 17 hour day.  And tomorrow morning rounds will be announced at 7:30 am (4:30 am west coast time).
4.  I think that in incremental ways, we as a community have begun to take steps toward a more humane tournament life.  Few 8 round tournaments are left, there is a move toward defining best practices as 6 prelim rounds, some shift in debate culture to shortening decision time post debate has occured at least during prelims, and there is more conversation and awareness of health and quality of life issues.
5.  I think I like Sue's suggestions,  but not sure how to proceed.  Maybe CEDA sanctioning should be more strictly controlled (no points to tournaments that do not offer 12 hours from completion of rounds to announcement of next days rounds, or only 6 rounds, or...???)  Maybe the marketplace will solve, if we have a variety of tournament choices, that would be good.  How about a 5K morning walk/run on Saturday?  Basketball, touch football or soccer during the tournament?  A hypnotist to guide deep breathing relaxation/meditation sessions between rounds....    a masseuse...

looking for another donut.....    dave
From: Sue Peterson [bk2nocal at gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 20, 2009 1:45 PM
To: Steinberg, David L; edebate at ndtceda.com
Subject: Re: [eDebate] Sick Debaters, Travel, and Bid Applications

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 times.

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<mailto: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<mailto: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
204-385-5216 (fax)
dave at miami.edu<mailto:dave at miami.edu>
From: ceda-l-bounces at www.ndtceda.com<mailto:ceda-l-bounces at www.ndtceda.com> [ceda-l-bounces at www.ndtceda.com<mailto:ceda-l-bounces at www.ndtceda.com>] On Behalf Of Darren Elliott [delliott at KCKCC.EDU<mailto:delliott at KCKCC.EDU>]
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 11:03 PM
To: JP Lacy; Galloway, Ryan W.
Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate at ndtceda.com>; ceda-l at ndtceda.com<mailto: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.


Darren Elliott
Director of Debate and Forensics
Kansas City Kansas Community College

From: edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com> [edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com<mailto:edebate-bounces at www.ndtceda.com>] On Behalf Of JP Lacy [lacyjp at wfu.edu<mailto:lacyjp at wfu.edu>]
Sent: Thursday, September 17, 2009 9:27 PM
To: Galloway, Ryan W.
Cc: edebate at ndtceda.com<mailto: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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