Omnia Yorkum Novum in tres partes divisa est.*
First there is the one with which I am most familiar, which we’ll call Middle York. This is the range from the top of Westchester to the bottom of Brooklyn. These are the schools I see regularly at NYCFL (excluding Brooklyn, which is in a different diocese) and at the invitationals I attend. I would call these my usual suspects. They travel a lot around the northeast, in a seething mass that includes familiar-to-me judges and contestants and coaches. And, of course, familiar to one another. They emulate a relatively national, circuity style. They know where one another’s bodies are buried.
Secondly, there is Lon Gisland. I see some of these schools at the college tournaments, and some of them at other places as well, but I always think of the Island as a forensics universe unto itself, with an active local league that obviates the need to travel far and wide. If you look at the map, you will see that LI runs almost all the way to Rhode Island, which is actually not an island and was deliberately misnamed because its founder, Roger Williams, wanted to trick people into avoiding driving on I-95. As a result of its geography, I think it’s safe to say that LI is probably another seething mass of familiarity, with a style of debate all its own that its judges and contestants and coaches are used to. If may or may not be the same as Middle York.
Finally, there is Upper York, everything above I-84 on the map, except Monticello, which might as well be in the Bronx as far as style is concerned (although they’re not attending this year). These people I hardly ever see. Occasionally an upstate school will show at a college tournament or at the odd high school tournament, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s terra incognita and here there be dragons. I don’t know if they speak English. For that matter, I don’t know if they’ve evolved vocal capabilities. (Despite having spent 5 years at school in Syracuse, by the way. No one talked back then. There was too much snow.) In any case, there is no question in my mind that their seething mass of familiarity must needs be separate from Lon Gisland and Middle York. They’re the Galapagos of the state, with their own unique evolution. Hell, for all I know, they don’t even believe in evolution, and they were created 6000 years ago and dropped directly into the Albany suburbs.
The point of all of this is to explain why I’ve separated the debate judge pools at States into three regions (although not using the regions function in tabroom). If debaters from different regions are hitting one another, it seems to me that they should have a geographically neutral adjudicator from another region entirely. When debaters from the same region are meeting, it doesn’t matter if their judge is also from that region or another one: the playing field is leveled. It’s not that I’m saying judges will be prejudiced toward their region, but especially in PF, where their experience may be limited, they might indeed be prejudiced to their region’s style. Then again, in situations where real prejudice is possible, my experience is that conflicted judges tend to bend over backwards not to be biased, and more often than not vote against the team where the perceived bias would be in their favor.
So, there won’t be any MJP, or even any strikes. All the judges are obligated for the whole tournament, vertically through all the divisions. So what I’ve done is created my own balancing act to keep things as fair as possible. It may or may not be necessary, but I don’t think anyone can fault it.
*Back in my Catholic high school, Latin was a required course. Then the church stopped using it in masses, turning instead to folk singing, which subsequently replaced Latin in the secondary school curriculum.