RANT- Handling evidence


I thought the title was innovative, and being a curmudgeon (or so I’m told) this could be a new 3nr series that I might get too busy to continue but hey who knows.

Bill: I didn’t mean to be a (hill)TOPPER and post this during your tournament.

I promise you’re more likely to laugh below

Actual Post

I feel like I’ve talked about this growing epidemic in our community with some of you all; its rapid proliferation across the community makes swine flu outbreaks seem like a walk in the park.  It is a silent killer of time at debate tournaments and if unchecked could cause who knows what.  The issue I am writing to you about is the hand or (mis)-handling of evidence in between speeches.

Here’s how this crisis plays out in debates across the country (probably in a debate going on RIGHT NOW). Timer goes off speech of team “AB” ends.  Y of team “XY” announces,  “Before prep I need all the evidence that you read and I need all of my evidence back.”  2-3 mins of dead time elapses as these kids who appear to have just emerged from an F4 tornado look for the scattered sheets of white paper often finding flows, timers, and lost treasures prior to finding the horrible Uniqueness evidence on Health Care that the team actually wants .  Nevermind that team XY had a total of 90 seconds of prep left for their 2nr, but this 2nr is content on looking at EVERY piece of evidence rather then use that time more constructively.   In honor of National Pirate Day (yes that is for real and it is today) ARRRRGGGGGGGh.

This happens in every single debate  seemingly after every speech.  And maybe its because at debate camp I noticed this , it has become  like that stain on a shirt that once you notice you can’t stop staring at but debate after debate this drives me crazy and is raising my blood pressure just thinking about it.

I feel like this wasn’t an issue when old timers like myself, scott and bill debated so this is obviously a more recent development.  I’m not sure there are perfect solutions to the problem but here are some tips to saving easily 10 mins per debate.

1.) Take only the evidence you actually need- for some reason debaters now interpret “can you flip to the right” to mean we need to take every single piece of evidence that clown read for 8 mins and hold onto it.  The flip and gathering evidence was designed to make it easier for you to get access to the cards you needed specifically, if you take every single card that they flip to you you’ve kind of defeated the purpose of gathering evidence.  Also considering the amount of evidence comparison I see in most debates, I’m frankly confused what you’re doing with their evidence.   Hoping if you have a nose bleed you can use their evidence and not yours?  Take the cards that you need and leave the rest.

2.) After you are finished with a speech don’t sit back down, pick your nose and ask your partner “how awesome was that speech huhh.”  Stay up there, gather the evidence from 1nc,2ac, 2nc, 1nr whatever, organize it, cross hatch it, separate it by issues.  If you are a 1n, you should do this for your whole 1nr  so if the 2nr goes for what you took you can have it cross hatched and ready for them to prep/ reference in the 2nr.  It also helps solve the next issue…

3.) Manage your debate real estate (DRE)  Your areas are beyond messy.  I’ m not sure who taught this to you all but much like not flowing this is a fad that will hopefully be out of style soon.   Your desk areas look horrible, you don’t know where your evidence or their evidence is, you have no semblance of organization.  I frankly don’t care if you choose not to keep your stuff organized at all but when you tell me we need to use the judge prep or take an officials’ time out to find the evidence then that is where you’ve got it wrong bucko.  Judges have served as enablers for this little addiction you have and much like crack, this is wack.   Keep your area neat and you’ll know where your business is.

I am considering instituting various measures to solve this crisis because in reality it garners both / at least one side some unfair free prep time.  So maybe timing the amount of dead time and then dividing that number by 2 and taking it off both teams prep time OR if one team seems to be at fault charging them with the whole amount of time OR maybe even having it effect speaker points, after all this is another way you all as debaters conduct yourselves.  If you are intentionally stealing prep or too lazy to clean your area, give back evidence etc that reflects on you as a debater.

6 thoughts on “RANT- Handling evidence

  1. Scott Phillips

    You know whats great for cutting down on this roy? Going paperless.

    But seriously- I am considering the following rule- a team gets 10 seconds to get evidence before their next speech. After that, the timer starts- at the end when they find the evidence they need, whichever side had it loses that amount of prep time.

    There are a lot of obvious flaws in this plan, but I can’t think of a better way to cut down on this and I agree it is a huge annoyance.

  2. CJ Clevenger

    Very simple solution. As I judge I don’t play by debater’s mythical fantasies about when they start prep. My timer is continuous (about a 10 second delay). As soon as the speech stops, C-X starts, as soon as C-X ends, Prep starts (about enough time for me to ask “are you taking prep?”) In my rounds, this is not up for debate, it is not up for discussion, this is how it is. If you need your evidence, you should ask for it before the other team gives their speech. Debaters are a very intelligent bunch of people. They will adapt and figure out how to deal with it. But as a judge this is one of several things that people have allowed to become the norm. News flash, they do not control the “timer”, judges do. I keep my own time, I do not rely on debaters, as I was one at one point. (would not have trusted me, why do they think that I would trust them?) There is no such thing as judge’s prep to be used or free time. time is continuous and will continue to be in my round.

  3. Tom Tom

    I understand where everyone’s coming from, but I have a quick question to ask about “lost” prep time with regards to paperless.

    Where does everyone stand as to where the prep time goes for flash-driving speeches? Having not started debating yet, I’m not sure what the procedure for this has become.

    I feel that it may be unfair to the paperless team to spend prep for this as they are making an effort to provide the other team with evidence before the speech, and the lost time is not at a fault of their own, but cause by mere technological barriers. I also feel that it is unfair for the other team to have to spend prep to get evidence, or to have to wait until after the speech to collect it (whether spending prep or not.)

    This may be one instance where lost prep is something that shouldn’t be doled out to either team, but instead accepted because of the overall reduction paperless has on wasted time in general. Besides, once the evidence is flash-drived, it doesn’t have to keep bouncing back and forth between teams.

  4. CJ Clevenger

    No different than the time it takes some to build a podium. As a judge I ask some of the most intelligent people I know to demonstrate that they can chew gum and walk at the sametime (build a podium and give a road map) They can do the same with a computer. While they are giving the road map, they can continue that process, and hand it to the other team just before the speech. I do not think that the other team needs to have it loaded on their computer before the speech starts, as long as they have it in their possession. At that point it is on the other team. Just because they decided to debate paperless, until the times have been adjusted, they must adhere to them, thus adapt and overcome. There was a time not so long ago, that you did not look at evidence until…wait for it….AFTER the speech was over….*gasp* the horror of it! Yes this is true, and in some places it still remains the norm. In an age of disclosure I would like to see prep time reduced to 7 minutes per team (10 being the norm) with 6 minutes of non-prep/admin time for the judge to decide how to use. This would allow for time for finding evidence or the transfer of data. Once that time is up, it will start cutting into prep time of the team responsible for that information. Or the team that is going to speak can continue on and start their speech.

  5. Ellis

    I kind of like the idea of a separate time limit for evidence gathering–it lets the debaters decide how important that one uniqueness card really is and creates a fixed cap on wasted time. Still, please bear with us (us being all the new paperless teams) at this stage of the season. It’s a tough transition but it will save a ton of time in the long run. The problem with starting a speech and then letting your opponents load it isn’t so much that 30 seconds where they don’t get to read every card as it is the likelihood of windows saying something about corrupted files and the speech not loading at all. We are working on setting up ad hoc wireless networks (not sure how that works, I’m not too good with all the complicated tech stuff) so the speech can load itself to the viewing computer without the whole flash drive routine. In the mean time, take comfort in the fact that we won’t spend 20 minutes looking for that one sheet of paper or else you’ll be creating an incentive for us to just skip the tedious routine of letting opponents see our speech. Trying to let everyone see the evidence they want is for a good cause after all–better intelligence = better debate.

  6. Michael Antonucci

    I don’t think paperless should get you extra prep time.

    Tournaments are already way too long. We shouldn’t have to sacrifice more of our time on the altar of the Next Big Thing. Do I have to sit awkwardly while debaters do their Twitter updates?

    Don’t get me wrong – paperless is cool, love it, Hardy’s done great work on it.

    I just think prep time rules are what they are, and they should stay that way unless TOURNAMENT DIRECTORS elect to build in prep time exceptions.

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