So, ADA nats happened. And the NDT. And the topic is over. And there hasn’t been a take for as far as the eye can see. The necessary corrective is here! Part one and part two are here and here. In no particular order:
1. People doing funny stuff in the body of cards.
I LOVE it. I need everyone to share with me every screenshot they have of this phenomenon immediately. HR’s contribution:
2. Are Warm Up Tournaments Necessary?
We went to ADA, not just for the warm up, but that was definitely a part of the reason. We also have pulled back from winter break tournaments due to budgetary concerns and debater feedback. I think if one looks at this closely, they will find no causality. Kentucky and Georgia debated at ADA and made finals. Wake didn’t and made semi’s. Hegna did and got top speaker. Caitlin didn’t and got 5th.
Kentucky has had a very mixed bag over the last five years of how people felt about skipping tournaments. Probably not one of the biggest influencers on end results. BUT, I will say in warm up’s defense, there is nothing quite like the fear of looking stupid in front of people to get the juices flowing and up the preparation. BT in particular were very happy they went to ADA and got a lot of the kinks out like. . .
3. Dropping DA’s
The ultimate full circle. We read the Japan DA at GSU. That Japan DA ends up in Georgia docs. Georgia reads that Japan DA against us. Trufanov cannot fathom how to answer it.
I ate food during the first part of the ADA finals and when I got back the 2AC cx was winding down and Gabe J says Truf dropped a DA. I said stfu that troll sucks. Then he shows me the 1NC. Then he shows me the 2AC. And then we spend a lot a lot of time talking about whether they can do anything besides going for conditionality.
Reports from the judges were that they noticed pretty much immediately, but then started wondering what elaborate piece of showmanship was going to occur in the 2AC. Did UGA read impact defense against their own DA? Did the 1AC straight turn the Japan DA to the point you need no additional cards? Not so much.
There was a good deal of scrapping that happened after this that created some pause, but what a way to lose your first and only NFU policy debate. R
4. The ADA Tournament is Good
The competition is high quality. The quarters were 5.5 first rounds, Indiana AD and Trinity DK. The case for a warm up is reasonable, although not definitive. I think the slant of the judge pool is exaggerated. Liberty HT in quarters + Kentucky pref experiment proves good teams find a way. But the ADA national list didn’t look that far off from a national tournament.
But here is the real reason the ADA tournament is enjoyable: it is built around a series of programs that take novice and JV debate seriously. That creates a unique culture and tournament experience worth celebrating. It’s not the model we chose at Kentucky, but I grew up in it and respect it. It’s one of the most realistic ways to grow the activity.
Also, everyone who has won that tournament is smart and talented.
5. New Affs Bad
Not talking about the stupid thing in policy debates I don’t even flow. Talking about this Michigan GW vs Wake EF debate at the NDT. Here is the argument from the 1NC:
“Interpretation- Non-black people should disclose their 1AC against black people. 4 reasons to prefer:
a.) Fairness- non-white people are already structurally ahead in the debate community, this means that competitive equity and openness is especially key.
b.) Securitization- the refusal to disclose against black folk is a securitization from nuanced dialogue because there’s have no time to prep. They literally disclosed no parts of the aff after being explicitly asked. This is external exclusion offense.
c.) Resistance Clash- They destroy the quality of method debates because as the aff they get infinite permutations and prereq arguments so side bias already swings affirmative, which means all we have is the ability to create nuanced arguments against the aff.
d.) Rush to Unintelligibility- In method debates there is always a rush to who can say the least in order to avoid clash which uniquely hurts method debates. We have a responsibility to build competitive standards with each other in order to engage methods.
At best this is a reason to vote them down for their pedagogical model, but at worst they shouldn't get theoretical arguments like permutations because they’ve destroyed nuanced clash.”
So white people are structurally ahead + depth is important. The first argument seems to fall apart quickly. Why is the corrective that you have to disclose? Why not that you aren’t allowed to switch affirmatives at all?
The bigger issue, though, is fairness along another axis, which is team size. The advantage small schools get from the asymmetry of breaking new seems to massively outweigh the marginal improvement 25 minutes of thinking would get the Neg. I think invoking fairness in this context would backfire.
So, the depth argument speaks to a larger issue. On the Neg side we have this linear notion that the more time an argument is known the better off the opponents will be. That could impact you like 30 minutes at a time. You didn’t know about an Aff, they told you 30 mins before the debate, your 1NC will be marginally better. Not night and day better, but better.
But there is a linear impact going the other way. That impact is the amount of pretournament preparation you have to do to not get caught by surprise. If your goal is the pop a new Aff on something specific (which mine is, it’s the only thing that can get me to feel something from an argument preparation standpoint) you have to change a lot of the way you prepare. Disclosing doesn’t completely take away from that, since 30 minutes can’t do all that much. You will want something you can quickly tailor. BUT it might create a sense of complacency that is much worse for overall argument development due to spinoffs and unforeseen connections.
The big thing that swings in favor of new Affs is small schools need it + getting the coaches out of the room is good for argument growth. I guess you could solve the 2nd thing with CI—tell us, we won’t tell our coaches, but seems hard to verify.
6. Dude Judges
They need to fucking chill. Judges need to be there for the debaters. That means don’t raise your voice and don’t use the post round to teach tough lessons. Non-male debaters are entitled to the same range of feelings and emotions in a post round that male debaters are afforded.
I have been yelled at in a post round before (only one is sticking out in my mind at the moment, so if you thought you yelled at me you probably didn’t do a very good job). It is not great, but it doesn’t mean any tension is an attack or requires escalation. If you have trouble dealing you may want to remove yourself from the situation instead of hoisting yourself onto others and telling them to deal with it.
Non-male debaters across social media were sharing stories of several judges doing a bad job in the post round. Listen to them and get your shit together.
7. The Most Tested Aff
I can’t believe going into an executive power topic the most scrutinized Aff by fucking miles was CEA’ing NSA’s for NNWS’s.
8. So this Happened
Ouita Michel (formerly Papka) is a UK debate alum. She won the NDT in 1986 (was either the first or the second woman to do so, if anyone has definitive history either way, let me know). She has since become a chef who owns a restaurant empire in Lexington. You may have seen her on the latest season of Top Chef. Here is what she said after the win:
“Congratulations!! We are so proud. This officially means I will cook whatever your heart desires for your close of season dinner at the Hill. Prime beef? no problem, lobster? its in the pot. Just no liver and onions-- ha!”
That is NICE. I can’t begin to fathom what to do with a blank check from a world class chef.
9. Breaking New isn’t for Everyone
I don’t mean people shouldn’t write and break new Affs. I am talking about in situations where there is gap between you as the Aff and the skills of the Neg team. The higher up the ranking you go two things start to happen. One, those teams have debated a bunch of new Affs during the year and in their career. Second, they prepared for the tournament on the assumption people would be breaking new Affs on them. That significantly diminishes the edge you are getting.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t be striving to cut an Aff that threads the needle, but I think people too quickly give up on the equity of old. Preparing for new Affs cuts the other way. By the end of NU does everyone have a case neg to everything? No. If you are a team reading a more obscure Aff, are teams going to do targeted research against you? Probably not. The odds that they say something new against your old stuff? Low. The odds they say something a little different you might not be ready for against new? Reasonable.
10. The NDT Bye is Wild
I was going to make the argument the bye is so huge for winning, but looking at all the NDT’s on tabroom that doesn’t appear to be the case. BT, Michigan AP and Emporia SW made the finals with a bye through doubles. Everyone else debated in the doubles.
So, my point is going to be the bye is still really, really nice. The pressure of round 8 (especially if things have gone wrong and you are on the bubble) to relief, to having to ramp up for your first do or die debate that happens very late is an emotional roller coaster. Going from so stoked to career over jars me just thinking about it. Being able to pass on all that was huge. It makes sense why people fill the box and make aggressive moves in the prelims. It is funny how no other tournament really rewards you that like the NDT.
11. Shrine to New Affs Dead in the Box
If people think it would be funny to memorialize all the 1AC’s that died in the box in one place for reference I will do it. I think it is pretty funny. You don’t need to save those top-secret sneaky impacts (hint we were gonna say that war was good). If people will contribute, I will do it.
12. Congress deference Aff
It would have wrecked people. How many off were you reading against deference after you take out amendment, court capital and court clog? That’s what I thought.
13. Courts Neg
It sucks. Minus the amendment CP which is good. Also, the clog. But everything else is bad. Court capital doesn’t work by reading Roberts swings when you haven’t read any cards about why the plan creates urgency to swing in the first place. If you don’t talk about national security or international law the Neg has nothing to say.
14. Sniping New Affs
I want to do this so bad and it seemed like it could have definitely happened on this topic, but I was just too scattered. Like I knew CFIUS was a thing but didn’t do anything to stop it. That would have been my best bet. If I hunkered down and became treaties guy maybe I would have done Paris and OST ahead of time? There wasn’t a moment this year where I wrote an argument in anticipation of a particular Aff, it got read against us and we won. Sad! Maybe next year.
15. Researching the K
Was annoying this year, particularly in the preseason. It quickly became apparent that the stem was nothing like health care or climate (exec power, SOP or constitutionalism didn’t lead to a strong K lit base like the previous three topics). You know what it reminded me of? Legalization! The last legal topic with a weird list! It makes K debates silly. I presume the foreign policy resolution will be reasonable since it will deal with a region of the world and that seems to generate better stuff (Middle East, Latin America, etc.)
16. Amar, Trade Guy, Adam
Love Amar. One year of coaching and his team wins the NDT. Must be nice. Who knew what a mess of an area he got in the preseason. Amar trade cards on the season: 2372 (I counted). Rest of squad: 7. Have fun being a trade lawyer Amar. Your five years on the squad pushed it to new heights.
Weird topic. Unwieldy, but played to our strengths. Good people. Good fun. I have one more post relating to the NDT that is going to drop next week.
I am Lincoln, retired debate coach . This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.