Thoughts on the 100 speaker point system after St. Mark's

First I want to say that Tim Mahoney, Jason Peterson and everyone at St. Mark’s did an incredible job running this tournament.   The tournament did not run late, everyone had ample time for pre round prep and the tournament ran incredibly smooth.  If you have not been to St. Mark’s before you should consider adding it to your schedule of tournaments.

Having spent a little bit of time reviewing the packet and ballots (both available on for everyone to see) I think that overall the implementation of the 100 point system was a success.

St. Mark’s provided a scale to be used for assigning points.   The scale translated into the following.  Take the points you would have given a debater on the 30 point scale, subtract that number by 20 and multiply that result by 10.  So if I had wanted to give someone a 27,  27-20 = 7.  7 x 10 = 70.  Now obviously because the scale is larger you get to play around and say assign a 71 72, 73 etc.  The ballot also requested that you not give two debaters in the room the same exact speaker points; the goal of this was that in every single debate you should be able to differentiate in order who debated the best.

Looking at the ballots and the packet I got a good sense that this system is clearly superior to the current system of .5 increments.  The concern of widespread variance was solved for by the scale provided by the tournament.   You were more able to get a grasp of who debated better in any given debate (by forcing each debater to get separate points)  and you were able to better see the differences amongst a medium 27.5 debater and high 28.5 debater in a debate.

My biggest criticism of the system might be something that is more cosmetic then anything but speaks to relative point inflation.  The top 7 debaters at St. Marks averaged above a 90 (or over 29 in the 30 point system) in their 6 debates( looking at total points not even the high /low).  While I think that all of those top 7 speakers deserved their speaker awards (heck one of them was one of my kids) I’ve become concerned that there might be a psychological barrier associated with the 90 point mark.  I’m not sure if people feel comfortable having a high 28.5 be less than a 90 total points.  This in turn could cause points to creep back up into the 85-100 scale and lead us back to the same broken point system we currently use.  Because this is obviously the first high school tournament this is not a reason to dismiss this system and on balance just some food for thought about the system.

The way I see it we have 3 options

1.)    Stay with the current .5 increment 30 point system- to me this is the worst of the 3 options, this system is broken and has been for a while.  I suspect it will take tournaments a while to adjust I’m glad St. Mark’s started this move in HS.

2.)    Keep this point scale (the -20 x 7) at most major hs tournaments and hope it adjusts itself to normal ( I suspect it might)

3.)    Go to a decimal point system where you have 28.1, 28.2, 28.3.   While it doesn’t have the shock factor of seeing a 93 and 73 given out in the same debate it is functionally the same and might prevent 29.2 from being the average points of the top speaker at a tournament

If someone has an in depth position either way on the system and how it worked at St. Marks e-mail me and we’ll consider making it a feature post.  If you all liked / disliked it send me an email with a reason why and I’ll compile those into a long post to not totally clutter the comment section on the right.