Thursday, November 02, 2017

And the winner is...

Big surprise. It's the NCAA topic. Folks interested in learning more should follow Kellams:

Meanwhile, you ask, what else is new in the world?

Let’s see. Princeton is opened and packed to the gills (and then some). The warnings have gone out that TBAs will disappear on Monday. This always requires lots of warnings, because, well, we really mean it, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. I have found that this part of the process does a good job of cutting out the ribbon clerks. What isn’t so easy to cut out is the waitlisted camp and independent entries. The invitation is clear that the tournament is open to official school entries only, but I guess hope springs eternal.

Penn just opened yesterday. That always seems early to me, but whatever. We worked with it last year. I’ve cleaned up the spreadsheet I used last year to track numbers and I’m ready to start breaking hearts any minute, although it won’t be for a couple of weeks. Probably the biggest problem is that there are always a lot of local Philadelphia schools that don’t understand that they can’t just waltz in at the last minute and expect slots. We totally filled up last year and expect to do so again this year. Where do they think those slots are coming from?

JV has been refining the Scarsdale tournament. My only fear there is the inexperienced tab room staff. Can Kaczmarek, Page, Menick and Sloat actually do this job? Of course, it’s comparable to the tab room at Baby Bump, of Menick, Vaughan, Page and Sloat. Somehow these tournaments manage to happen, despite our efforts to the contrary.

Kaz has started sending out messages about Wee Sma Lex. There seems to be about a hundred divisions happening all at the same time. It’s always fun, even if it is wee sma. Key this year will be e-ballots. As I’ve said at various times, a tournament that is not all E reaps few benefits of E other than not having to enter some of the ballots. That’s some benefit, but the speediness of an e-tournament is lost. That’s a big one.

Other than that, there’s Ridge of course. Lexington and I are staying at some new place in the wilds of New Jersey. Be prepared to send out the hounds.

My tournament calendar year winds up with the Christmas Chlassic, or the Kristmas Klassic, or whatever you want to call it. The Holiday Hasidic? The Xmas Xic? The KwanzaaVaganza? Pick one. Then we put our little feet up and rest for a while.


Friday, October 27, 2017

In which we continue along those lines

Rob commented about the second possibility: "Well presumably that's the point: if they were treated as employees under FLSA, they'd have to be paid. I imagine FLSA was chosen specifically so they'd have to be paid hourly, as opposed to assume profit-sharing mechanism."

Okay. I admit I know nothing about sports. Does that mean that they are already sharing profits? Or is that just a possibility, an alternative to a salary? I still have to admit, in either case, it's not terribly interesting compared to the issues of free speech that NSDA could be addressing with a better version of the first rez. This article, by the way, is a good analysis of the free speech problem overall: 

In other words, I guess I think that understanding freedom of speech, and arguing about it, is a way better use of high school brains than the issue of paying a handful of athletes. These kids are heading to college soon. What are they going to see there? What are they going to learn there? 

What are they going to think there?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

In which we apply everything we know, which isn't much, to the December PF resolutions

OPTION 1 – Resolved: Professional sports are an appropriate platform for political change.

OPTION 2 – Resolved: NCAA student athletes ought to be recognized as employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

I admit that I haven’t been posting much lately, mostly because I don’t have much to say except the same old same old, and I am otherwise engaged more often than not, but this one caught my fancy. My first reaction was, like yours, sheer wonderment that the NSDA would get that drunk before releasing potential topics, but then I realized that they were probably stone cold sober, which led to even more wonderment.


A platform for political change means, I guess, a place to demonstrate in the hopes of changing things politically, as compared to a place to have a direct cause/effect relationship. I mean, they’re probably not saying that if you act in professional sports, there is a direct result in politics. I guess. Here’s what Web sez about a platform:

2:a declaration of the principles on which a group of persons stands; especially :a declaration of principles and policies adopted by a political party or a candidate
3a (1) :a usually raised horizontal flat surface; especially :a raised flooring 
(2) :a device or structure incorporating or providing a platform; especially :such a structure on legs used for offshore drilling (as for oil)
b :a place or opportunity for public discussion
4a :a usually thick layer (as of cork) between the inner sole and outer sole of a shoe
b :a shoe having such a sole
5a :a vehicle (such as a satellite or aircraft) used for a particular purpose or to carry a usually specified kind of equipment
b :operating system; also :the computer architecture and equipment using a particular operating system

While I like the idea that the rez refers to scarily tall shoes, it’s probably more like the declaration of principles or the place for public discussion. Actually, in the literal syntax of the rez, it would have to be the latter. So, professional sports are an appropriate place for public discussion in aid of political change. I have two thoughts on this. What place isn’t appropriate for public discussion in aid of political change? And second, when exactly during the football/baseball/soccer/43-man-squamish game does this public discussion take place? I mean, I just read in the NY Times that the huddle is disappearing from pro football, and as far as I know in my limited understanding of sports, that’s about the only time in that game anyone ever says anything to anyone else other than trash talking on the line of scrimmage and “Oomph” when someone tackles you. My guess is that this rez is somehow meant to address taking the knee during the anthem. Which of course means in NSDA Speak that the rez should not mention in any way, shape or form the concept of taking the knee during the anthem. As statements of principles goes, and taking the knee is definitely such an animal, it is also overarching in its obliqueness. It is analogous to the Marlon Brando movie, The Wild One, when Johnny is asked what he’s rebelling against, to which his reply is, “Whadda ya got?” In the US in 2017, a general protest against pretty much everything makes sense to me, but it doesn’t lead to political change as much as public awareness. Unfortunately, that awareness gets turned around into more hatred and bitterness, but that’s sort of beside the point. A topic that said: Displays of resistance during the national anthem are … something, would at least tackle it head on. It wouldn’t go anywhere during the argumentation, but at least people wouldn’t have to spend argument time trying to explain what they’re arguing about.

As for the second possibility, on the Department of Labor website it says, “the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.” The NCAA is for college students, so my initial thought, which was that the one thing that might be applicable here, child labor standards, turns out to be impossible. Which raises the question, Did I miss the memo where it was announced that we now pay college basketball players? I mean, that could absolutely be a thing that I don’t know about. In which case, insuring that they get paid the same as burger slingers at McDonalds really does seem like a good use of debater time this coming December. (I’m sorry. I realize sarcasm doesn’t always come across clearly in the written word, hence I’ll parenthesize the subtext.) If they don’t get paid, the laws that apply to their getting paid seem to be, I don’t know, inapt?

Sports. What do I know?

Monday, October 09, 2017

Thursday, October 05, 2017

In which we redirect

For the next week or so I'll be posting regular updates on Rather Large Bronx over on the Tournament Toolkit page on Facebook. This page will probably lie dormant until we put that one to bed.

I'll see you over on Fb, in between the Russian propaganda ads.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

In which Whitman wonders

I was away at WDW for a week, the last blast of vacation for me before the season starts in earnest. Byram Hills was just a practice run. We’re about to shoot off the big guns.

This weekend is Monticello, their Kaiser tournament. Once again I bemoan the lack of support for this small but important event. Where, exactly, are the sophomores of life getting good experience the beginning of the year? For that matter, where are they getting any experience at all? I felt the same way about Byram, although here the mix of events is slightly different. Regional debate is, in my estimation, the most important sort of debate. It’s available and accessible to the most people, theoretically bringing the most debate to the community. And as often as not, the community, intent apparently only on the Big Time, seems to forget that the Big Time is only a part of it (and an expensive part at that) for a select few. For that matter, how will that select few ever get good without a lot of rounds under their belt?

Is a puzzlement. And I’ve been down this road before. No one, apparently, gives a flying fig.

JV has set up the Scarsdale tournament taking the paradigm of upperclass judging that he’s had for years in LD and applying it for the first time to PF. Not everyone takes advantage of this opportunity to judge, which I think is a shame. Seeing a round from the other side of the room is a great learning opportunity in aid of improving one’s one skills. Plus, what the hell else are you going to do every hour out of two? I gather the hyper-competitive sorts think this will ruin their game somehow, although in my experience, it never has. After all, we do monitor things in tab, so no one is debating and judging every single round. But then again, as with the whole regional thing, some schools are more interested in winning TOC bids than learning anything.

Is a puzzlement. And I’ve been down this road before. No one, apparently, gives a flying fig.

I repeat myself? Very well then, I repeat myself. I am not that large, and hardly contain any multitudes at all.  

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

In which we put the Toolkit to bed

Updating the Toolkit was a real task. A lot of it was predicated on a talk I gave way back when at the NDCA, and all I had from that was a PowerPoint. Usually I work in lots of written words, and I had to take all those spoken words and baffling slides and make essay-ish sense out of them. Some of the data I updated. Some I threw out completely and replaced with better stuff.

Then, of course, there was the challenge of organization, figuring out what went where. Honestly, the Toolkit webpage is the best resource, because you can find something useful right there easily enough, but I like to delude myself and think that some people might download the whole manual as a single document and browse through it.

Here’s the thing, and I see it all the time. Most people don’t seem to know how best to run a tournament, even if they’ve been running a tournament since Trump Tower was just a little Motel 6 down a ways from the interstate. (There’s a metaphor I hope to never use again.) First of all, they do it the same every time, which makes little sense given that any good crafter wants to improve the product with each attempt. Second, and more important, they really don’t compare notes with one another. Agree or disagree with what I suggest, at least it puts forth a potential best practice that you can compare to what you’re doing.

It’s interesting to work with the Rather Large Bronx team of TDs. I can’t imagine more competent, dedicated people, but at the same time, they’re sort of locked into the way things were back in the day. Debate, and tournaments, have changed a lot in the last decade. The good news is that they listen to us and agree with what we’re suggesting. But they’re smart enough to know that their tab staff isn’t just a bunch of puppets useful for three days only. We know how to run tournaments because we do it all the time. We’re learning and improving all the time. Why wouldn’t you listen to us? If you do as we suggest, you’ll improve your tournament. If you ignore us, at least you’ll give us the opportunity to say we told you so. The same applies to the Toolkit, now captured in amber for the ages.

Which raises the question, if tournament operations are always evolving, how do I handle that? I’m not quite sure. The Fb page should help. We’ll see. I certainly don’t expect what I have written to be the final word, or for that matter, all that often the first word. If only a handful of people use it to improve their tournaments, that’s at least something. And now that it’s done, aside from presumed updates, I can move on to other things.