bad rap

This might become part of a greater series on games, but something has been bothering me lately:

Why is sportsmanship a good thing and gamesmanship a bad thing?

or, for that matter, what do you call it when someone behaves "sportsmanly" while they are playing a game.

A Few quick hits from this weekend

First of all, grats to Mahoney and company from St. Marks. y'all run a tight ship.

Second of all, grats to all the sophomores I saw at the hoedown. Lots of very good debate, especially given everyone's experience level. I've been to that tournament 3 years in a row now and I'm always impressed by the quality of debate.

I think I've got a new pet peeve now for kritik debates. I think that when it comes to "X is socially constructed," I think that the response of "X exists, dummy" is consistently under-utilized. Lots of K's rely on the idea that some facet of the other team's story is some sort of construction, and it seems like such an intuitive (and in most cases, winnable) answer that, no, it turns out that this thing is really real.

It seems like it's the new trend to try to answer the k by out-weirding it. Talking about fools and knaves and stuff. I like my kritik debates like I like my coffee: simple and a little bitter.

Threats exist? hell yeah they do
Suffering exists? all over the place
Mental illness? see it. believe it.

that's just a few examples. Maybe it's just the fact that I'm a tool of the system, but I'm far more likely to trust an expert in the field who publishes in peer reviewed journals than an academic who uses too many hyphens.


So I do a fair amount of complaining at debate tournaments, mostly about the way Texas debate tournaments are run. Instead of sounding like a broken record at tournaments, I am now just going to start a running list of all the things at local Texas tournaments that I see as either bad for debate or just plain irritating.

• No Strikes whatsoever
• Bad judges' lounges. I'll get to that later
• 4 prelim rounds instead of 5
• A four-and-then-quarters tournament that lasts till 11PM on saturday.
• A four round tournament with 3 presets and 1 powered round.
• Tournaments that break brackets (including the breaking of brackets at state. What the deuce?)
• Speech judges in varsity debate. this is unfortunate
• Speech judges in varsity debate elimination rounds. this is unacceptable.
• Absolutely no consideration for cleanliness of judges in out rounds.
• Ballot tables that say "no, you can't pick up your ballot. Tell me your name and I will hand it to you, so as to waste the most time"
• Ballot tables that say "no, you can't pick up your fiancee's ballot for her. She needs to come over so I can waste her time too"
(quick note: here's how to tell which ballots haven't been picked up: THOSE ARE THE ONES THAT ARE STILL SITTING THERE ON THE TABLE)

• Tournaments where round 1 doesn't come out on time. Seriously. how hard is it to pair round one on time?
• Nobody running ballots. Ever.
• Getting mad at me when I hand my ballot to a student to run it to the ballot table.
• No pairings available at the ballot table. They just have one for the table.
• No communication from the judges lounge to the ballot table. So I can't be "standing by" and "eating food" at the same time. And of course no pairings in the judges lounge.
• Sometimes, no pairings available at all. They post one copy on the wall for 30+ teams, judges, and coaches. Jerks.
• Pushing ballots 5 minutes after pairings come out. To whoever is nearby. Without any consideration about what events they are experienced in or whether they are clean. Bonus points when it happens for outrounds.
• Kids that ask me "What are your paradigms?" don't think about that one too long. It might make your eyebrows start to burn a little.
• Kids that are double entered between extemp and debate, delaying the entire tournament when they break in both
• Structuring the entire tournament around the need for kids to double enter in speech and debate, sacrificing timeliness and/or an appropriate number of rounds.
• Judges lounges that pack up all the food after speech is done, while there are still 3 debate outrounds remaining. I know I already mentioned bad judges lounges, but that one deserves special mention
• Bonus points when they pack up all the food for the kids, too.
• Coaches that bail before the first elim round, or bail as their kids are eliminated.
• Calling it CX instead of Policy. Pet peeve.
• No JV division, ever.
• No novice case limits.
• The rule that the kids can't enter the room without a judge present, so I get to watch everyone set up every round.
• Two bad tournaments every weekend instead of one good one.
• Trophies that say "3rd place" instead of "semifinalist." Ok, another pet peeve, but there can't be two teams in third place!

Now, there are some tournaments in Texas that actually do a wonderful job. But this only underscores the bad tournaments' liability. There are perfectly good examples of what to do nearby, why must we continually suck week after week? And I do mean week after week. I have seen all of these on multiple occasions.

Anyone who uses Texas debate as an example of a thriving debate community to be emulated needs to actually come down here. If this is what it takes to save policy debate, policy debate ain't worth saving.