1. Will Online Debate Kill In-Person Debate?
This is one take I forgot to address in my last post. The argument is that proving online debate works means no university would fund debate travel.
First, I am not an expert in the subject because I don’t deal with department chairs, deans, provosts etc. Even then, a lot of programs are housed in different departments and have different institutional arrangements. Organizationally, debate teams aren’t one-size-fits-all. So, my speculations can be discounted on that account.
Then we get to a couple uniqueness things. First is budget pressure. It is high now. The alternative to cost reduction is not to keep giving debate teams money. It is to cancel them. This doesn’t answer the fact that online debate could simply accelerate the demise. I will answer this in a moment.
The second uniqueness question is the intersection of online learning and higher education. We aren’t breaking new ground here. Online learning was supposed to lead to the demise of higher education. And yet, we still have class in person. Why is that? Because there are issues with online learning. It’s not as good. Face-to-face learning is good. There are tons of cards about this.
Conferences are being cancelled. They are being done online. They are likely to happen in person at next available opportunity. Same thing with classes for the rest of the semester. For people who are looking for a justification to slash debate budgets, many examples of doing stuff online already serve as a pretense.
The conversation will not go like this:
Director of debate: Debate is really good, we should have a debate team.
Administrator: I agree.
Director: I need a lot of money.
Administrator: I don’t want to give you a lot of money, can you make do with less money? Do things online?
Director: There is no way to do online debate, money please.
Administrator: Wow, that person was a tough bargainer. OK.
So, two things about answering the budget DA and preventing accelerated collapse. One, you need to focus on proactive arguments about why face-to-face debate is good. There are cards, it is in line with the mission of most academic departments debate finds itself in etc. Two, instead of shunning online debate, it is likely to better to say you experimented with it, here are nuanced differences that make it less good. It is better to appear on the cutting edge of new forms of learning than to look like luddites.
3. Line by line
Novice debaters were frequently better at it than open debaters. Open debaters just read a bunch of random stuff at the top of flows, went out of order, did a terrible job signposting (by which I mean they said “they said” and then what followed was just a terrible paraphrasing of what the other side said) and little to no transition between what arguments they were answering.
Novices were holding it down by just, shockingly, going in order.
Also, number things! It’s good!
4. Hot breakfast
As a tournament-runner I worry about the hot breakfast because it seems like it has a smaller window to enjoy eating it. Bagels and donuts sit better for longer. I have also seen piles of extra food at Texas and ADA, which implies maybe people don’t care about it as much. But could be an ordering issue. Some people claim to really enjoy the hot breakfast more. Is there a small but passionate pro-hot breakfast segment of the debate tournament population? Are pastries and what not just the better option on average? The anecdotal evidence is unclear.
A very reasonable first take on the topic. There aren’t that many genuinely good cards on this topic, but the Chow articles clear the bar. But the people who read RPOs all year…SHAME. First, this Aff wasn’t that good. That was mainly a function of narrow/redundant advantage claims and inability to innovate. But the Neg also got pretty good pretty quick.
I feel like people in the early or middle part of their debate career might be tricked into thinking that an optimal way to approach future topics is find the next RPO case. DO NOT do it. Read a bigger Aff. Read one that is written about by more people. Be able to read lots of advantages. Have novel ways to create offense in the 2AC.
6. NSP PIC
President bans the plan. Congress does the plan. Supreme Court grants cert and expedites resolving the conflict.
A true monstrosity of a CP. The only thing worse than the CP is the fact that it simply bulldozed some teams in the second semester. Ghastly.
The text doesn’t say the Court rules for Congress?? Maybe they would rule for I don’t know, the president? Then the CP dies? But wait, if they just fiated the Court rules for Congress it gets way less competitive. Oh word, would that change any of the arguments in the 2NC? No?? Huh, weird.
The CP argues only the president can do NSP and that you topically can’t fiat Congress. When there is a Congressional law that bans cooperating with one of the countries in the topic. One of a cascading list of complaints that voids all potential for the CP to appeal to “better debates” or “better interp of the topic”
7. Six round tournaments and scheduling
The ADA tournament did two rounds on Friday. Five rounds on Saturday. Four rounds on Sunday with an awards banquet in between octafinals and quarterfinals. Daylight saving time taking an hour happened Saturday night.
This schedule was rough, not going to lie. ADA lets the host pick between being a Fri/Sat/Sun and Sat/Sun/Mon. I think tournaments should mainly be Sat/Sun/Mon. Friday start forces too much Thursday travel and an extra day of class missing.
I am torn about six versus eight prelim rounds. Six allows you to do 4-3-4. As yester year California tournaments prove that can be pretty nice for the quality of life (especially now that we do 2:15 decision times).
The two most common rejoinders are that teams look at tournaments from a dollar per debate perspective. More debates better. Another is if you have a 100 teams, six rounds doesn’t do the best job sorting. You also may have more 4-2’s missing on points than 5-3’s.
My personal hangup is by the end of the year there are so many arguments or teams my team doesn’t face directly. There is also an issue where despite the argument being present for most of the year it doesn’t seem like people fully grasp how to debate it. Cutting two prelims would exacerbate those issues.
8. Neg vs K Aff
Ironically the ADA tournament had a lot of instances of treacherous K debates.
First, in the quarters, Cal NR switches it up from noodiversity to talking about Stiegler and radical mediation. Oh we aren’t simulating a philosophy of the topic anymore? We are examining the constituent exclusions of the topic? Dope dope dope, those are totally the same thing. We should have seen the Stiegler Aff coming. Silly us.
Then Kansas read a biometric CP against Cal NR. Sorry plebes. Good tech good, bad tech bad. Next.
The next off was saying post-humanism was bad when the Aff said that. Oops. There was humanism good stuff going on on this page that maybe clashed with the Aff, but probably not because Cal NR loves saying not our humanism and it was a bit of a side show.
Which is all to say Cal NR is very good on the Aff. They put you in a spot where you have to answer oddly specific, particular and speculative thesis claims OR be very very good at navigating framework around said claims. Most teams don’t pull it off. Props to them for putting opponents in tough spots.
9. You’re Welcome Zahir
One of the few (the only?) people to be publicly admonished on this blog. I am glad to see you took the criticism to heart, stopped resting on your laurels and decided to try. The result has been winning the last three tournaments Emory GS has attended. It’s obviously 95% to Eugenia’s credit, but I did see a little extra pep in Zahir’s step this weekend. Well done.
I am Lincoln, retired debate coach . This site's purpose is to post my ramblings about policy debate.