2011/12 CMSDL Proposed Argument Limits

The CMSDL administration has attached a set of proposed argument limits for this debate season. Please take a careful look at them and get back to us with any reactions, concerns, objections, or proposed emendations by this weekend, 9/18, to cdc@resources.chicagodebates.org. On Monday, 9/19, our argument limits for the season will be set, unless we have unresolved discussions or differences, in which case we’ll resolve them next week.

A few highlights from these proposed argument limits, for your consideration.

— The Varsity and JV Divisions’ rules are the same here because of the possibility, even likelihood, that these Divisions will be merged at some of our tournaments, as they were last year, until awards, when the two Divisions are broken out again.
— Updated evidence would be allowed in the V/JV Division at T2, and then for the rest of the year. Updated evidence would be allowed in the Novice Division at T3, and then for the rest of the year. This rule allows for newly researched evidence making the same essential argument in the Core Files — it doesn’t allow for new arguments being made.
— “Unlimited Case Attacks” allows teams to research new case attacks, beyond those in the Core Files.
— The Critique in that would be allowed in T4 and T5 against Core Files cases is the Astropolitics Critique, the one in the HS Core Files.
— The previewing of a new case that would be allowed in the V/JV Division at T4 and T5 would mirror the process at the HS level. Each school could preview one new affirmative case, several weeks in advance of the tournament. Then all the previews would be circulated, giving all schools an opportunity to research and develop negative strategies against these new cases.
— The negative would be unlimited against these new affirmative cases, since they may not be answerable by Core Files arguments.
— These are fairly aggressive extensions of the arguments runnable in the CMSDL, but based on the HS CDL, the openness doesn’t at all mean that schools will take full advantage of this “freedom” and run a lot of new arguments. And the fact that there are two Conferences in the CMSDL this season will also likely mean that there will be more expansion in the range of arguments in the “A” Conference rather than the “AA,” though of course that is not pre-determined by the rules or by the League administration — it is entirely up to the coaches and the students at the schools themselves.
— Don’t hesitate to backchannel or post any questions you might have. Argument limits can seem a little confusing at first, though they are readily understandable once explained and “lived with” a little bit.

2 replies
  1. John Jacoby
    John Jacoby says:

    Here is what I sent in as my comments, perhaps other coaches will find it useful.

    I think these are way too aggressive. Every coach is faced at the start of the year with an influx of novice debaters. As a coach, you must work with these students starting on the basics of doing a verbal presentation as well as the basics of a debate. The debate format, flowing, cross exam, constructive versus rebuttals, judging, affirmative and resolution, negative, status quo, case attacks, disads, turns, topicality, all the nomenclature, etc. is a lot to get through conceptually before you even start getting into the specific arguments as presented in the core files.

    At the start of the year you also have scheduling problems. I think opening up with two cases in JV/Varsity (note that I will have some teams with experienced partners matched with novices which means novices in JV) means that I will have to coach up those teams much more quickly and time spent on the second case will be useful at some point to the novices (which will make up more than half our total squad) but not at all relevant to the first tournament.

    Last year we had almost universal agreement among coaches that the novice division should not add the second case until the last tournament. This year you want to throw 3 cases at that division?

    Look, this is my third year in this league. There were big strides made between the first and second years, both in terms of growth in the number of schools as well as the demands upon the student and sophistication. That first year we only did one rebuttal speech, right? You have tripled the league in number of schools since then and improved the breadth and sophistication of arguments over that time period. You are already adding a tournament this year, why are you trying to make this mirror high school debate so rapidly? I think the steps should be slowed down.

    I understand the desire to push this to more of a high school model, but I think the varsity debaters I saw last year were certainly ready to advance to high school and take more on there which I think should be the focus of this league, as opposed to creating a high school like program in the middle schools. This is too much for middle school IMO, especially considering the quality of judging.

    As a coach if these limits hold I see much more of my time being spent on the evidence and arguments which means less can be used on presentation, the basics of arguments, flowing and the primary need in this league which is getting students to deliver good rebuttal speeches. Middle school has been an introduction and refinement to the skills and training necessary to advance into high school debate. These limits will shift the focus from those things to competition and the topic.

    So here is my two cents:

    First tournament only one case both divisions. I think topicality is fine for the JV/Varsity.

    T2 add the second case JV/Varsity but wait on the updated evidence.

    T3 add the updated evidence on JV/Varsity (although I would be fine to never go this route as well — I think it gives a big advantage to the already advantaged established schools and high school program linked schools) but do not add any new cases in Var/JV.

    T4 allow the added third case in Var/JV (I would leave off the preview case entirely — based on last year 3 cases is plenty for this division) and start the second case in Novice along with topicality. Maintain that for T5. For Novice no updated evidence allowed.

    That means over last year you are adding a case in much earlier in both divisions and an extra case in JV/Varsity along with updated evidence.

    In Novice over last year you are adding in Topicality sooner, and a second case sooner. Plus in both divisions you are adding an extra tournament. I think that is a lot of progress in one year.

    If you go with the argument limits as described I think you increase the division between the haves and the have nots, you encourage upper level teams to gain a huge advantage over other teams by adding new cases and additional evidence which will lead to JV teams and novice teams in rounds totally unprepared to face the arguments/evidence coming their way.


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