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Pay attention. Period.
Let me start by saying that the critiques of Yuri and Klemz seem to be far
outlasting their orginal venting. I haven't seen a post from them in several
days, yet the admonishments continue to roll.
Were they right? Clearly, being right is somewhat subjective. Judging at
CEDA Nats is horrible. It's the worst judging pool I've ever seen, except
for prior CEDA Nats. But, then, the NDT is always the worst judging pool
of the season on that circuit. So, I believe there is at least a kernel of
factual "rightness" to their complaint. Were they right to call out folks on
the L? Probably not. As much as I personally enjoy such behavior, I have
plenty of personal experiences to suggest that, in the long run, it's best
not to vent on people. Tournaments, bureaucracies, rules, time limits,
etc., all seem fair ground for venting, but when it becomes personal it
usually ends up obscuring the real issues that deserve to be addressed.
I do object strenuously, however, to the suggestion that we should "Pay
attention to debaters with class, not those who whine." The problem is
that everyone has some "class" (or whatever that term means) and
everyone whines in their own way. We need to listen to each and
everyone of them and not build hierarchies of exclusion just because we
don't like the means used to express an objection. Once we start
defining debaters off who has "class" and who doesn't, we've just
found a new road to bigotry-ville.
In my mind, few people have as much class as Yuri. But that's MY
definition of class. I wouldn't ignore anyone simply because they have
"less" class in my mind than Yuri. The fact that so many seem to be
advocating just such a course of action saddens me greatly. If we can
ignore serious issues, because those issues are raised by "low-class"
individuals, then the future of this organization is bleak.
I have a lot of complaints about CEDA Nats, though in all honesty, I had
no problem with our trips panels. I don't think MPJ will substantially
change the situations that troubled me.
1. The field is simply too large
2. The judging pool is too diluted
3. The judging pool seems infected with the "underdog-itis" virus
4. Too many judges seem more concerned with your past records at
CEDA Nats than in paying attention to the rounds.
5. Unlike NDT, there seems to be an incredible emphasis on new "trick"
affs, making negative prep fairly meaningless and/or reducing the
debate to who has the best "hint" of a link.
6. No set procedures for running the tournament. Deciding which rounds
will be high-high and which will be high-low after some ballots have
already been tabbed seems to offer the possibility that such choices
will be made to inflict the most "strategic" amusement. Post hoc
defenses are always less than certain.
7. Bad debates. Five of my six judging assignments involved teams that
would have a hard time clearing at regional JV tournaments. Bad
debates aren't very educational and place debaters in the awkward
situation of being docked points if you slaughter a weaker team or
losing if you don't beat them by a big enough margin. Underdog-itis
only makes the choice more of a risk.
I'm sorry if this sounds like whining. I know it is. In over a decade of
clearing into late elims at almost all national circuit tournaments, Weber
has never gone past trips. Even Korry Harvey, when he was second
speaker, couldn't get past trips. At least NDT has first rounds to reward
excellent seasons, but all we have are trips plaques and a lot of
unpleasant memories. Now, already people are once again recruiting my
debaters. Now the line is,"If you want success at CEDA Nats, you better
leave Weber." I also don't mean for my whining to reduce the
achievements of those who succeeded. It seems silly to think that it
could. Come on, who's going to think less of Northwestern or Michigan
State because Bear is going off again, right? My hat is off to those that
made it to the last day, particularly, given my lack of clue as to what it
takes. But still, as I ususally do, I think there is something that is wrong.
Unlike most times, I have no answers. I don't even feel like trying to
formulate them, at least at the moment. Gina Lane seems to be the only
one offering any ideas close to being constructive. MPJ may be a good
idea, but it does very little to address most of the problems I have with
the CEDA Nats tournament.
There are several specific prelim judges whose actions troubled me
greatly. I will not call them out in public. They would have been "A's" on
an MPJ sheet. I'm sorry if I offended any of them. My greatest desire is to
see the hard work of my students help them succeed and I can only
hope you can forgive me for a few moments of frustration when even
the other team admits that your reasons for decision (or point reductions)
don't match up with what happened in the round.
Given these frustrations, and given the announcement of NDT and CEDA
National dates, I probably won't be at CEDA Nats, next year. In terms of
friendship and comraderie CEDA makes NDT seem cold and sterile, but
I'm supposed to be doing this for the education of my students, not my
own personal comforts. We'll probably do a mix of NDT and CEDA during
the season, but the thought of facing another CEDA Nats just doesn't
seem very appealing, personally or educationally. I sincerely hope that
this community will take advantage of the window of opportunity it has,
with Pf. Snider's (not Snyder) leadership, to address some of these
problems. I know that finding the answers and solutions won't be easy.
MPJ is not the panacea.
Well, that's my whine. It's off my chest. I'm going to sign off this list, so
feel free to psycho-analyze me and my debaters and label us
"low-class." Just remember: This list, as is the debate world, is not an
objective reality. Rightness and wrongness are always personal
choices, framed by the interpretation of those involved in moral choices. I
simply ask those of you who would be so quick to brand "whining" as
wrong to reflect on how you'd like your frustrations to be constantly
dismissed as the "troubled" ramblings of a whiner. The most "troubling"
thing I see in the CEDA community is too many people refusing to listen.
I choose not to play the bureaucratic game. To my friends that have gone
that route, I have to tell you how odd you look defending the types of
things that were, at one time, sources of public frustration for
yourselves. I hope that you will listen to the complaints of us low-class
whiners when you hold your annual reform-fest business meetings. I
hope someone remembers to put them in amendment form. For now, I'm
taking another one of Pf Snider's sage suggestions and voting with my
Wishing everyone a pleasant off-season,
Michael "Bear" Bryant
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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