I’ve learned all sorts of things lately about tabroom. I’ve learned, for one thing, that dropping or changing a judge is not considered a nuisance, hence does not incur a nuisance fine. I have mixed feelings about this.
Most of all, I don’t like nuisance fines. What might have once been considered a nuisance, back when people signed up for tournaments by newfangled faxing and everything was tabbed on index cards and there was no indoor plumbing, maybe any sort of change was a true nuisance. But nowadays? Seriously? At worse, you take 17 seconds to make a name change or hit the drop button. At best, you freeze fees on Monday but allow people to make all the changes they want on their end up till the point when, say, prefs are open. I mean, what the hell do you care? If someone drops a team, you’ve already got their money. They’re paying for someone not to come to the tournament. I’m in favor of this. But telling them they need to pay an additional, say, ten dollars? How many greed pills did you actually take with your orange juice this morning? For that matter, given how schools work, and how checks are cut, do you really want the annoyance of spending your whole tournament chasing down ten dollar fines from high school teachers? What are you, the Republican Congress? Jeesh.
Can we say that high school debate tournaments are not money-making operations? This is not to say that some of them don’t make money—most of them do—but then the school with all these big bucks just turns around and spends it back to other tournaments. Everybody ends up breaking about even, except for maybe the airlines and Uber. The exception to this is colleges, which make boatloads of money that they pour into their own college teams rather than the high school community (although there are notable exceptions to this, like Penn). I don’t begrudge them this. First of all, we run a lot of very good tournaments under their auspices, so no one goes away unhappy. And second, most people are willing to pay megabucks to attend a tournament at Grand Old Ivy halfway across the continent over attending a tournament at Poor Local HS down the street, because, well, Grand Old Ivy. So it’s a combination of a sucker born every minute, but at the same time, the sucker is getting pretty good value, so nobody’s complaining.
Anyhow, the point is, nuisance fines are at best a thing of the past and at worst, a greed play. Can we all just drop them, period, end of story? We freeze the fees early in the week, and let it go at that. If you get 10 schools that make changes after that, you’ll be able to extort a whole extra hundred bucks out of them. Is that really the way you want to portray your school in the fabric of the debate community?