Category Archives: Community

Thoughts on the Proposed Resolutions for 2015-2016

The National Federation of High Schools has released descriptive paragraphs of the proposed resolutions for the 2015-2016 season in order “to promote extensive discussion by coaches and students over the next six weeks.” Below the fold, I offer my initial thoughts about the slate of potential topics. Keep in mind that it is still early in the process and these opinions are subject to evolution and change based on further research and discussion. If you have an opinion about one or more of the proposed topics, share it in the comments. 

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Evan McCarty's Senior Speaker Address

Each year at the Heart of Texas Invitational at the St. Mark’s School of Texas, a senior debater is selected to deliver a speech at the Sunday morning breakfast. Quarterfinalist teams, Sophomore Hoe Down competitors, and their coaches are invited to attend. This year’s speaker—joining an impressive list of previous honorees—was Evan McCarty from Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Alabama. The text of his speech—about the importance of friendship in debate—is available below the fold.

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New Blog, Forum Offers Travel Tips and Resources for Debate Coaches

“Wisdom gained from 30 years of schlepping nerdy kids from coast to coast” is the subtitle of Lexy Green’s new blog, Debate Travel Tips. Only a few weeks old, the site has already become an invaluable resource for debate coaches seeking to save money on travel expenses—which is redundant, I guess, since that goal is shared by pretty much every debate coach in America. So far, articles have touched on hotel loyalty programs, printing, early hotel booking, and a few other topics that should be of interest to coaches. In addition to the blog, Lexy—the Director of Forensics at College Prep in Oakland, California—has set up a Debate Travel Forum for coaches to use to share tips, arrange room and ride shares, and discuss travel-related issues.

2011 Disclosure Award

There hasn’t been the lead in discussion of the disclosure award this year that there was last year, which to me is ironic because I believe the graduating class last year did a much more thorough job of updating their wikis than several schools this year. Part of that may be that I found this year’s wiki to be more cluttered/disorganized than last years which was more bare bones imo.

So this year for the disclosure award I will be throwing in a twist. This year the award will go to a team who shows not only that they were committed to disclosure by putting up their arguments but also to the team who best comes up with a way to organize their wiki to make it easy to use.

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Announcing The 2011 Women's Debate Institute

There are too few women in debate. There is no shortage of potential explanations for this phenomenon-lack of female role models, difficulty in a confrontational learning environment, sexism in society, lower speaker points or even male students in the activity. While many have attempted to pinpoint the causes, there is a group I’ve been working with for several years that attempts to correct the imbalance between men and women in debate.

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Selling Topics

There is a bit of a scandal going on right now about the NFL “selling” the rights to pick the public forum topic. You can wade into it here, and see a response from the NFL here.

At least for me trying to take a position on this is hard because after reading all of this I still don’t really know what is going on (mainly because there is no agreement as to what exactly happened). But I will say a few things.

1. In theory, selling the topic seems like an ok idea to me. 150k? That is a lot of cash that could probably do some good. The obvious questions are who decides where the money goes etc. It should be fairly obvious that I should get to decide where any topic sale revenues are spent, but odds are likely that due to “politics” the NFL would get to decide. I have long thought the NFL spent a bit too much money on promotional elements and not enough reinvesting into debate, and I worry a similar thing would occur with their new cash cow.

2. The topic process as it works now in both HS and college debate is I think pretty dumb. They say a camel is a horse made by committee, and these topics clearly reflect that. I think there should be some sort of like Enders game system where we just pick a really smart debate person and have them craft the topic for a year all by themselves so there doesn’t have to be any compromising or dumbing down. Then next year pick a new person. So the idea that letting outsiders “buy” the topic somehow destroys our awesome topic process doesn’t really hold a lot of weight with me. Democracy doesn’t work people.

3. I don’t want to get into a whole policy vs public forum thing here, but it does seem to me that the very purpose of public forum is to engage the public at large in a way that policy can’t (and shouldn’t). And getting the NFL corporate sponsorship seems like a big part of why pofo came about, giving debate a more marketable face.

NDCA Ethics Statement

So recently an ethics statement produced by the NDCA failed to get passed by a pretty large margin. It seems fairly obvious that counting people not voting as a no vote was the cause here (despite arguments made to the contrary…) so I think either people just didn’t know about it or didn’t care enough to vote. Below I have gone through some of the provisions and given thoughts and then suggested some ways the statement could be improved.

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Bill Batterman Birthday

Please Wish Bill a happy birthday.

Without Bill’s hard work this site would literally not exist, he is definitely one of the biggest debate dorks I know (a good thing) and he constantly contributes to the activity.

Happy Birthday Bill