The thing to remember about running your tournament is that it is, first and foremost, your tournament. You can do whatever you want. You can let in whomever you want to let in. You can have whatever divisions you want, and set them up however you want to set them up. Of course, this must be viewed in the context of giving your guests/customers what they want. It doesn’t make much sense, for instance, to offer only policy in a region that has one policy school and a hundred and fifty nine PF schools. And you want to treat your guests well, even if it is more expensive to hire lots of good judges and provide edible food. But still, given a baseline of reality, it’s your tournament and you can do what you want.
Ridge has an interesting history with MJP. It was one of the first regional tournaments to embrace the idea, to some extent at my urging. We wanted to see how it would play out with mostly local judges and local teams. Over the years we’ve adjusted it every which way in terms of how many (equal) tiers (because unequal tiers, aside from a smaller number of strikes, is a deception). Last weekend, we had the full 6 tiers, and put out a lot of pairings that were both mutual and respectably on the low side. Yes, given the size of the pool, by the time we got to the 0-3s we were a little less persnickety, but then again, we were doing the best we could with the resources at hand.
About a month ago, we did the Scarsdale tournament, which is single-flighted, and which offers strikes but no prefs. The only oversight on our part was to keep the obviously inexperienced judges from the important rounds. Our take-away was that a lot of judges got to see debates they might not otherwise see if MJP was in full swing, and that the end result was quite satisfactory. After Ridge last week, we agreed that the MJP, while mostly working, wasn’t really that great an idea for that tournament. Our overall agreement was that smaller, regional tournaments are better served on a technical level by random judging (with, as I say, a tad of oversight) rather than prefs. Of course, there are those who prefer random assignments, period. I sympathize with their viewpoint. I’ve always maintained that a good debater can pick up any judge, provided the debater is armed with enough information on that judge. (Even a paradigm stating: “I have never done this before” can be useful.) Public speaking IRL is about persuading people who need persuading. Debate, in its most competitive rounds, is often something else, a battle of narrow parochialism adjudicated by parties inculcated in that parochialism. There is nothing wrong with that; after all, the Supreme Court is mostly concerned with deciding arcane legal issues based on arcane legal reasoning and evidence. Ultimately, there is room for different kinds of debate, even in the same activity. LD here doesn’t have to be the same as LD there. Regional styles can be applied.
So should you have MJP? I guess the question is answered by what kind of tournament you’re running, and where you’re running it. Would I suggest eliminating it at Big Bronx? Absolutely not. People attend a national octas-bid tournament with certain expectations that MJP enhances. Would I recommend it for most regional tournaments without a high bid level, or with no bids? Probably not. Unless you have pretensions of becoming a big bid tournament (and good luck with that, because I can’t imagine a less worthy and less likely tournament goal), there’s no point in pretending to be something you’re not. More to the point, you’re eliminating an important aspect of debate by removing the randomness of judging. The further it moves away from education in good speech techniques, the less relevant it is to a greater number of people. After all, if that doesn’t explain the popularity PF, what does? The day MJP comes to PF is the day the NSDA needs to come up with a new category of debate for the rest of us.