Thursday, March 10, 2011

Where do the bids go?

As TOC season approaches, the flotsam four begin discussing how tournaments should get bids. Not much is solved, and more will come next week. Episode 40.


  1. On the issue of the Harvard and Berkeley bid status, I feel that the awarding of a bid level to a tournament is being treated too much as a reward. TOC bids should be distributed in a manner which highlights the debaters who have had success throughout the season. Bids are being treated as an incentive to attend a tournament, whereas I think that the value of debating is in the tournament itself. One should be proud of doing well at Harvard or Berkeley, not because he or she received a bid, but because it is an accomplishment. The rest of the season should exist independent of the TOC in the sense that debaters should not only attend a tournament to earn a bid, but to actually compete at and possible succeed at that tournament.
    Therefore, I believe that TOC bids should not be used to influence which tournaments people attend, but they should be given to those who do well at the competitive tournaments. In this sense, bids could almost be announced after the season is over. For example, the TOC committee could reflect back on which tournaments had the most competitive fields and therefore would yield the best debaters (I understand there would be many obvious problems with this system, but I think that it should be in that spirit that bids are awarded).
    I am a PF debater (though admitting this may destroy my credibility for many), and I have qualified to the TOC. Yet, when I attend tournaments, I want to do well for the pride of my achievement, and the bid may be a consolation for that success. While I understand that many debaters heavily value the TOC above all else, to say that the only reason he or she is attending a given tournament is to acquire the available bid is an insult to that tournament and cheapens the quality of the activity.
    So when it comes to determining which tournaments receive TOC bids it is somewhat of a vicious cycle. Which tournaments should have bids? The most competitive. Why is a tournament competitive? Since it has a bid. So I think the issue stems from this mindset of a tournament is only worth the bid it has. The concern was raised during the last podcast that Harvard and Berkeley do not give back to the community, but I feel that this is very arbitrary grounds for a bid. It seems ridiculous to say to a student, "You won Harvard, one of the most prestigious tournaments in that nation, but Harvard does not give enough to the community, so you will not receive a bid as a result." Such a system would not determine who is worthy of attending the TOC.
    To conclude, we have one of two situations.
    1). The competitiveness of a tournament is directly due to the level of bid, therefore it does not really matter where the bids go, for those tournaments will become the largest. Thus, since currently the large tournaments have the bids, we should opt to keep what we have.
    2). The largest tournaments are competitive due to some factor other than bids, so they would remain the top level tourneys anyway. Therefore, changing the bids would only be harmful, because now the system no longer rewards those who do best at the most competitive tournaments, but those who excel at obscure ones which have been granted a bid. So once again, we should keep what we have.

  2. essentially what the above describes is the NDT system of 1st round, 2nd round, and at large teams. or i would assume that the author would be interested in that. such a system ranks based on competitive success regardless of which tournaments have been attended (although modifiers for pool size/strength of competition def affect this).

    it seems incredibly clear to me that every single issue of entry limits, bid allocation, team contraints (not getting bids at your own tournament, or whatever), is WHOLLY up to the tournament director's discretion. i question the fairness/quality of this, but i think we should admit that it is the status quo - a tournament director/tabber can decide to allow a school to have 10 entries when the limit is 6, or simply decide to fix an MJP problem by giving a few manual 1-3 or 2-4 matchups. humans are fallible/have motivations and tab software certainly is fallible (its only motivation is an equal contempt for all human life). I don't know what types of factors are involved in these decisions, but as someone who's heard his fair share of 'executive power bad' arguments, it makes me a little uneasy - particularly when i see the costs not placed on the tournament directors, schools, or coaches, but instead the students who not only should expect equitable treatment, but deserve it.

    ultimately my team will continue attending bid tournaments for bids, regardless of whether we are forced to compete against the pool and tab room simultaneously. although I feel an NDT style system is preferable because it at the very least regulates on the back end of bidding/qualifying, even if ultimately there is little way to control or monitor the front end (how exactly tournaments are run). many people make unverifiable claims of bias or what have you, i think those are totally counterproductive. the question should be: why is the accepted system one in which decision-making ability is maintained within a small group who are at the very least somewhat invested in the outcomes of the events they oversee? in specific reference to this podcast, i would say that the fact that "the same people tab every tournament in region X or Y," while reflective certainly of experience and stature in tabbing, does not necessarily reflect a substantively or formally equitable system, nor a system that lacks the need for improvement.

    we shouldn't ignore real world factors and relationships, and i think the best way to handle these ever-changing conditions is to establish a clear, binding, and unimpeachable protocol for running TOC bid tournaments. the simple fact that the expectations on these tournaments are unclear should speak to the need for reform.

    our system already takes kids and punishes them constantly - for their sex, race, class, and school. i am a firm believer that all students should have equal access to competitive opportunity. this is of course an impossibility, but as jim so accurately notes (Although he may not go far enough) "we've created this situation." i of course take this quote out of context and apply it to debate/tournaments as a whole.

  3. I used to debate way back in the old days of 1995. What happened? I'm curious I thought villager was a toc tournament in ld and policy? What happened

  4. anonymous: what happened was thus -

    debate responded to the same factors as literally every single other activity/discipline/cultural institution/etc in America and is largely dictated by pre-judicial biases and structural inequalities that people refuse to acknowledge (if and when they do acknowledge them, it is only to point out their inevitability and to make some sort of statement in lines with "you won't change anything, stop stirring the pot, get used to it" OR to whitewash the whole affair).

    also, it got more and more competitive at the higher levels and the gap between the top and the bottom grew massively.

    i do not believe villager is a TOC bid in any event these days, although I may be wrong.

    people get dumber, the system that is pimping us out gets smarter, only the money wins, all humans lose.

  5. Tom thanks for responding but I'm not quite sure what that has to do with villiger. It was once a toc tourney in ld and policy, and a premier speech tournament. What the he'll happened? Maybe I should "ask Cruz" ;)

  6. What happened to the Episode 41 (3/24/2011) of the View from Tab?


    That's 41.