I mentioned this on the Tournament Toolkit FB page, but I can provide the full narrative here.
At the Regis Kristmas Chlassich, I set it up so that schools could mark themselves as present when they arrived. We started doing this a while ago, to make things easy for everyone. At Byram this year, however, where I’d also set it up, it wasn’t working for some reason. Maybe I set it up wrong, maybe there was a bug. Whichever. In any case, I figured not to do it for the first Regis event, but when the Christmas Klassik rolled around, I figured, what the hey, I’d give it a go.
And it worked fine. I was sitting in my ivory tower (AKA the freezing corridor where everyone enters the building letting in the cold air and I try to keep track of them), looking at the list of schools, and lo and behold, The Pirate Academy of Punks and Punkettes was signed in. Hmmmm, says I to myself, that’s unusual. As a rule PAPP is among the last to show up, and among the least likely to have all its beans in a row.
While I was pondering this conundrum, who should appear but a parent from PAPP, asking if I was the person he should pay. Why no, I replied, telling him we’d bill the school later. And by the way, I continued, all your teams are here, and all your judgebodies? He smiled warmly and told me that yes indeed, they were all present and accounted for, and with that he bade me a fond farewell and started heading for the door.
My inner alarm went off. Good sir! I cried. Where tf do you think you’re going? Why, he responded, I’m off to spend the day as I see fit, pursuing my private business that is no concern of yours. But who is chaperoning your PAPPs? I said. If one of them falls down four flights of stairs and needs to be taken to the local barber to have his head returned to his torso, who is here to sign the necessary paperwork? Pish tosh, he replied, what do I care? Well, I said, my dander now up, you are free to leave, but you can take all your teams and judgebodies along with you, because we can’t have unchaperoned students. PAPP heads were then put together, and another parent promised within a trice. The other parent did show up, and all proceeded according to Hoyle. Disaster, and unadjudicated beheading, averted.
But still, this does point up the problem of self-entry. If we don’t see you and your adult at the table, and your adult isn’t listed as your judge, well, anything can happen. And in the world we live in today, independent, unchaperoned students essentially sneaking into tournaments and hoping they don't get caught is exceedingly likely to happen. I already have a certain reputation, having thrown a student out of Bump, during the bid round no less, because I learned that he was unchaperoned. That sort of entered into legend for a while.
Here’s the thing. If something happens to a student on the premises, and there is no school representative for that student to handle it, or at least a parent representing the school, it becomes my problem. And, no, a thousand times no, I have no intention of letting that situation arise. I coached for decades and made it through relatively unscathed. I’m not going to open myself up now to handling sick or injured students who have snuck in when I wasn’t looking. For that matter, I want nothing to do with hale, hearty and intact students who have snuck in. A few minutes ago I was letting people off various waitlists for college tournaments. I can smell the independents a mile a way, bucko. Don’t even bother.
Unfair to poor independents, or schools without coaches? Perhaps. But I've said this before: as soon as your high school tennis tournaments start accepting unchaperoned, independent entries, then we'll start thinking about doing it for debate tournaments.