Podcast: Dr Hester’s Relfection on the 2012 College Debate Season

In our triumphant return to podcasting, Critical Issues in Debate welcomes back a long time contributor, Dr. Michael Hester. Dr Hester is the Director of West Georgia Debate and also a dean in the Honors College at West Georgia. Dr Hester is also a member of the Edebate Allstars. This conversation covers the 2012 NDT, the DSRB interview, the Loyolla v Georgetown semifinal round, preparing during the off-season, and more. Thanks Dr Hester for giving the website more great insights!

you can also download the postcast by clicking this link: hester 2012 reflection

This podcast is also available on itunes, just search “puttingthekindebate”

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7 Responses to “Podcast: Dr Hester’s Relfection on the 2012 College Debate Season”

  1. We Can Do Better Says:

    Really amazing interview

  2. We Can Do Better Says:

    I’ve been thinking about a number of the issues raised, notably Scott’s mention of the “glass ceiling” for K teams at the Semis of the NDT. I’ve thought about this issue frequently as well but am less concerned about its existence, for several reasons:

    1. It’s been shattered — UMKC defeated Wayne St. in 2007 before losing in the finals to Emory HH. Their loss wasn’t the result of a bad panel, institutional bias or big strategic errors. It was the inevitable result of defending a topical aff vs. a good team reading the Constitutional Amendment CP. It really was that much of a slayer.

    2. Debaters usually lose because of errors in execution rather than institutional bias, particularly in the era of MPJ. This is why the 2007 finals wasn’t an all-K debate. Oklahoma CJ were heavy favorites and had a very friendly panel vs. Emory HH. They went for Terror Talk against a Realpolitik aff, a difficult strategy.

    3. Think about who volunteers to judge the Semis and Finals. The folks are usually the least friendly to what Scott terms (in a friendly way) “the crazies.” Think about the usual volunteers for late-elims: Hardy, Repko, D Heidt etc.

    4. Many more K teams knock each other out than math or reason would suggest should occur. Consider Loyola v KU KK this year in the Quarters, or KU KK v. Baylor CM in the Octos. Or consider OU GW, a wrecking ball vs. policy teams, losing to UK and then UM LZ. Despite the fact that K teams are a statistical minority (I’d broadly venture 1/3 of the community identifies as “primarily critical”) they debate each other with surprising frequency.

    If I had to venture a guess about this last factor I would say it’s because (broad generalization alert) the K teams usually win their their debates on 2-1s but speak well. As a result, they’re lower in the bracket seeding than they normally would be.

    • “the K teams usually win their their debates on 2-1s but speak well. As a result, they’re lower in the bracket seeding than they normally would be.”

      i do think the NDT’s prelim panels is underestimated. in the past, pairing rounds high-low w/in brackets based on ballots rather than points was a significant change in standard operating procedure. teams that would usually be higher in the bracket (due to talkin’ purty) found themselves lower in the bracket b/c they now had to convince 24 judges (not just 8) – something that is much tougher when argument inflexibility means easy wins are harder to come by (1-off strats when the one argument doesn’t change all that much is easier to prepare for and harder to win on technical drops than more flexible and varied 1NCs).

      the above also explains why some K teams do better than others. being able to debate for more than just your favorite judges is key to doing well at the NDT. K teams like OU GW and Loyola had a much deeper pool of judges from whom they could pick up ballots. getting judges for whom K args are not their cup of tea to check in for you in big debates is the difference between 5-3 and 13 ballots vs 6-2 and 18 ballots at the NDT. and that usually means a better draw.

      of course, as noted above, luck plays a factor. and it’s not just the NDT. the year that Liz and Tonia were winning a ton for the ‘Ville they lost in the quarters of CEDA Nats to Fullerton CW – another K-on-K debate. as for the luck of the draw at the NDT, the year that Jim and Vince were debating, they were a top 10 First Round team that matched their bid rank (9) at the NDT by being the 9th seed after prelims. unfortunately for them, Weil and Senghas (the 8th ranked First Round) underperformed in prelims and were the 24th seed. so UWG BS loses a 3-2 in doubles to another top 10 First Round team. damn you Stephen Weil! one reason i was so pleased with DF’s performance at the NDT was their ballot count (17) and who they got to vote for them, a sign that they – like OU GW – can debate for judges outside of their comfort zone.

      as for the glass ceiling, despite my love for conspiracy theory literature, i don’t believe there is even a subconscious group aversion to “freaks” winning it all. keep in mind, it’s only been a decade since the first all-K-all-the-time teams came into existence (Ft Hays running AFFs without a plan). the sample size is very small. while coaching top Ten First Round teams like the WGLF, or Lundeen/Schultz, Binder/Schultz, and Boykin/Schultz, i experienced much more community support than community resistance. and the positive comments i’ve received about Damiyr & Miguel and Osa & Vanova gives me a sense that they are being received even better. maybe that’s a false sense on my part, but it doesn’t feel that way. smart debate is smart debate.

      and when UWG finally wins its first NDT, we’ll be the same freaks we’ve always been.

      • Scott Odekirk Says:

        Just to be clear, my “will they ever let the crazies win?” question is more born out of frustration in fighting for K championship but not out a genuine belief that there is truly a ceiling, I believe that a “K-all-the-time” team can and will win a championship. I do believe that this discussion is very interesting though and that this discussion is one of the things on the minds of folks after this year’s NDT.

    • Debater Hater Hater Says:

      UMKC was a K team?
      Does that make NU & Georgetown K teams too? The grapevine told me the finals & semis (for NU) were debates won on “the K” for these teams.

  3. David Cheshier Says:

    Just wanted to say, as someone long associated with and happily addicted to debate but now absent from it for almost a decade, what a pleasure it was to hear you talking these issues over. Good thoughtful conversation that both brought me right back into longstanding and still vital matters, and also gave me a sense of what the community’s grappling with today.

    • kevin kuswa Says:

      Yeah! Cheshier is on the forum and enjoying it. Great news–it’s a good day on puttingthekindebate. Welcome, David. Hope to see more of your thoughts and perspectives!

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