The more I coach debate and talk to others in the activity, the more I come face-to-face with a disconcerting reality. You, me and everyone else who coaches debate is about to be hit by a bus.
By “A bus” I mean any one of the long list of eventualities that could suddenly force you out of the activity. Between new jobs, grad school, law school, funding cuts, and even the actual miniature human beings that are in the care and protection of some of us, our lives as debate coaches is short. Even for the lucky ones of us who are able to make debate part of our “day job,” our activity is subject to forces far out of our control.
In some ways we as a community are victims of our own success. As we give students the tools to advance in debate, we also open up access to far-off schools, high-power careers, and the kind of fulfilling life that is incompatible with coaching debate. Of course this is a natural process, the very reason that we are willing to do so much for the activity in the first place. It’s a good problem to have.
Unfortunately, it means we are sowing the seeds of our own destruction. we can’t ignore this reality, and absent some major changes to the public education system we can’t make it go away.
The conclusion that I’m becoming convinced of is that we need to embrace it. We need to embrace the bus that is careening toward us and do everything we can to help the activity before it hits us. I’m not entirely sure what this means yet, but there are already a few things that I’ve started to see differently about debate.
I don’t really have anything to add… Ryan nailed it. Read the whole article.