Answering some of Roy's questions

Roy raised a lot of questions in his post TOC reflections post that I think deserve some discussion. The ones I didn’t address were generally dumb.


Many of the toc elim panels had younger judges and or judges who had judged less on the topic (we were extremely happy with our panel all 3 hs coaches).  I’m not one to judge other people’s preferences but it seemed interesting at how that happened.  These judges are obviously preferred highly by people (not making a value judgment here) but is it because they know and have been judged by these people or because in order to fill spots in their pref sheets they needed to move people up.

I think Roy has put together quite a few issues here that need to be separated out.

First – Young judges. I think there are quite a few reasons young judges get preffed a lot more at the TOC, some of the most important being

-profile- people generally assume they have a better grasp on how these people think (based on how they debate) then they do on coaches who they are quite a few years removed from

-neg terrorism – most people assume (prob correctly) that if winning on the negative requires a 1NC filled with multiple conditional PICS and a K that younger judges are a better target audience. That they have to be aff seems not to factor in as much.

-Ageism- its obviously a fact that younger judges are more chic than the dinosaurs, no rational expectation required.

Issue 2- judges who aren’t familiar with the topic

I don’t really think this is much of an issue- how many of the elim debates were actually about/required topic knowledge? Personally I would rather have a good judge than a knowledgeable judge.

Issue 3- Judges available on elim day

This, as I see it, is the biggest problem in college and high school. The pool of judges available for elims is much smaller that need be in order to give all the teams highly preferred judges in their elim debates. Travel is often a limiting factor, but even accounting for that there are always lots of judges around it seems who could be put in the pool. Some kind of incentive system could be used to make more judges available.


4.)     We need to consider a strong and enforced version of the NDT “Lupo” rule.

No, we don’t.  Lets set aside for a second that this kind of rule is totally impossible to monitor, unenforceable, and in general unworkable.

Lets look through a bunch of different situations and how the quotae would play out. In order

1. Small team- 2 debaters, 1 coach who fulfills the whole commitment. Perhaps they get a little better judging due to quota

2. Same as above, only coach hires out commitment so they can cut cards/scout. Under quota they now have to judge 3, almost cutting their work time in half. Disaster.

3. Small team again, this time they have 2 coaches who are splitting the commitment. Under quota 1 of them judges an extra debate, no major change either way.

So for small schools the quota is negligible or very bad. Moving on to large schools, which is primarily who this quota is designed to effect. So say large school A called shmoodward has 1 team but brings a staff of 5 people (why they are a large school is apparently based on number of coaches or historical success…). Under the quota their judges are in for 15 rounds when their commitment is 5.

The problem with the quota is it tries to take from people a ton of free labor. Why will schools pay to bring people to the TOC if they will be giving away their labor to the commons?
If you really want more judges in the pool for more debates you need to raise the commitment per team, not use a quota. Forcing people to prepare for and allocate the rounds in advance means the market will take care of things. Schools will either have to hire more rounds or bring more people to judge and put in the pool.

Now the obvious objection to this approach is “bad judges will be in for more debates, while good judges will still be in for 1/0”. This is a fair objection. But the problem isn’t unique to upping the commitment, the problem is that teams are able to provide non preferred judges in the first place. This is why you never have this sort of problem at the St Marks tournament (and why in general Mahoney should run every tournament)- because the issue of quality judging is made a priority by the tournament and is therefore taken care of.

If the issue is “we don’t like that people are brought to the TOC who don’t judge” then by all means -quota. If the issue is “we want more highly preferred judges judging a lot of debates” then quota is dumb.


The elim debates seemed to be really close, or at least there were a lot of split decisions.  5 out of 8 octos were 2-1s, 3 out of 4 quarters debates, one semis, and the finals

It’s always kind of puzzled me that the TOC hasn’t moved to larger elim panels in the vein of the NDT. Obviously if judging is already tight moving to larger panels will be a disaster. But with so many 2-1 decisions there has to be a lot of disgruntled students wishing for larger panels.


Some rambling to the effect of elims were neg biased.

Is anyone shocked by this? This has to have been the worst topic for the aff in quite some time. Add to that its apparently ok to read 4 cp’s and a K in the 1NC.  Anyone who planned to flip aff one elim day should get their head examined. This makes Westminster’s run even more amazing.


What happened to the courts as an aff mechanism?

The fact that so many people were impact turning nonsense like independent judiciary during the year meant that anyone wanting to switch to the court had to do a crapload of work to get ready for it effectively nullifying any advantage they gained. Add to that the politics disad blew, which moots another traditional advantage of the court.

17 thoughts on “Answering some of Roy's questions

  1. TimAlderete

    This is a little bit of "Just Askin'" and a little bit of actual Asking.

    Is there a judging problem at the TOC? Are there teams that had trouble when filling out their pref sheets finding enough judges to mark as 1s, 2s and 3s? Are there teams that feel that they didn't get judges who they rated highly? Do they actually have trouble finding enough judges to fill prelims? Does anyone think that the judging panels in elims are not good enough? Roy, you said that there were a lot of young panels – does that mean that you think that some of those panels should be better? Are we having trouble putting "highly preferred judges judging a lot of debates"?

    I am not sure that there is that much of a problem. We have gotten highly preferred judges all the way through the tournament for at least since they started doing MPJ. We've always gotten 1s and 2s all the way to the end, even after being eliminated. It always seems to me that there are a Lot of judges around at this tournament. I know that this is just my experience, and this is the "actual question" part of it – have other people had a different experience? And to tournament officials; have you had trouble finding elim judges before finals, or prelim judges?

    Also, the biggest reason (I think) to pref young judges is they give higher points.

  2. Roy Levkovitz

    There are always enough bodies to fill 1s and 2s that isn’t the issue. The point I was trying to make (which looking back didn’t come off as clear) is this
    are the younger judges ranked highly because people think they are good / give good speaks, or is it more out of necessity to fill those spots if that makes sense. It seems that ultimately some of the most important debates of the year are often judged by people who have not judged as many debates on the topic or are as familiar with the topic. Note- that is not to say they are bad judges or made bad decisions etc, just wondering how / why that happens.

    The TOC doesn't do the hiring judges thing. I'm not sure the terminal implication that has on your arg but just a fact. If in general you'd rather have X person judging who might not be as familiar with the topic that is fine and then this system makes sense. I just know alot of people talk about the difficulty they face in adapting to people they haven't debated in front of ever or as much versus someone who had judged them 20 times over the last 3-4 years.

    You do bring up an interesting issue (surprisingly) that is worth addressing The question of predictable vs unpredictably bad. You said you'd rather have someone debate competent even if their topic knowledge is small which leads to a bigger question. I remember talking to Mike Eber a couple years back about judging and he said something to the extent of "I'd rather know how someone judges even if they aren't the best judge knowing I can adapt to their preferences or likings and dislikes rather then be judged by someone who has never judged me before." I feel like that issue comes up the most at these tournaments where you know some of these people but don't necessarily know how they judge etc

  3. miles

    "Also, the biggest reason (I think) to pref young judges is they give higher points."

    hmm – is this true ?

  4. TimAlderete

    <blockquote cite="#commentbody-9158">
    miles :
    “Also, the biggest reason (I think) to pref young judges is they give higher points.”
    hmm – is this true ?

    Yes. I don't have Batterman-like skills/cites to back it up, but A Lot of anecdotal experience with this.

  5. Robert

    Can we define the "Lupo" rule for those who are unaware?
    Also, is a panel of more than 5 a good thing? It seems like it frustrated people after the finals of Emory BFHS, due to the amount of lay judges.

  6. miles

    @ batterman

    i would begin to engage you on my argument choices, but this game seems a bit rigged b/c it's taking place w/ in a masculine framework – scott's pro-pic is of a show that constantly degrades the feminine, yours is of a man who's role in life is to hunt and almost kill, and roy's picture is of himself – no explination needed as to why that's hyper-masculine

  7. Roy Levkovitz

    thanks for reading my toc reflections post…. It says that anyone who attends the NDT assuming they’re not still debaters is put in the judging pool and has to be available to judge a minimum number of debates at the NDT.

  8. Brian Kersch


    or is grammar hyper-masculine as well?

    As far as the actual substance of the issue goes: I've seen this trend. Lower level college debaters (freshman and sophomores not vying for a first round/not in direct competition with their school's top team for that title) tend to give higher speaker points to people like Miles/Ellis/DTay/Misael et al. The reason is because (we) just got out of high school and are just now getting our feet wet in college. I know from experience (debating Miles and Dtay/Ellis twice each) that if I were to have judged them this year it would have been hard for me, in my mind, to justify anything lower than a 29, and they probably would have earned 29.5s from me. To me they would have been ASTOUNDING debaters (and they are, don't get me wrong.) and as such should have been rewarded accordingly. Now for higher level college debaters (Bricker, Seth Gannon, Weil) and other seniors in general who have already had several years of experience debating the top-level college debaters are not as easily impressed by the skill of people like Ellis and Miles. This is not to say that they think less of their skill, but compared to the people they have become accustomed to debating it isn't as 'over-the-top' if you will, to those types of collegiate debaters as it would be to freshman/sophomores.

    My take on why Miles would seem to be thrown off by that comment.

  9. Neg bais?

    Could someone explain to me how this topic was neg baised? I am a novice, so it probably ended up being a bit different for us in our division, but in varsity, what caused neg to have so much bais? If 4 condo CP+K could be run on this topic, couldn't it still be run on any topic? I can't really see the reason that there was neg bais on this topic in specific.

  10. Zack Elias

    @Neg bais?

    It isn't about the number of conditional advocacies, but rather, the CP that solved every aff on the topic.

    Namely, the states CP. Hell yeah.

  11. Neg bais?

    Ah, I see. THat could explain it since our aff was structured so states wouldn't have solvency for half of our aff and gave it a difficult time winning global solvency. Everyone in my squad actually laughed oru heads off at states whenever a team ran it and hoped that they did :P. Clearly, this wasn't the case with every aff, and it explains why some teams, like westminster, actually stuck preempts to states in their 1ac. But did that 1 CP alone really ruin the topic? Did social services link to a lot of K's too or something? I know that as neg, we were able to beat a lot of other teams by running universal and having a 1nr full of arguing that means testing must be FIATed, because there was no good offense versus universal from what I saw since it was pretty much plan plus, but we were able to win that we severed out of the means testing of the 1ac. Were there lots of CP's like states and universal that solved for a lot of the case?

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