[Ndca-l] Issues concerning the high school community

John M. Masslon II johnmasslon
Wed Dec 18 09:48:24 EST 2013

*I think this is by far the most pressing issue facing HS debate at the
moment and am glad to see that a discussion has begun regarding our
community?s response.  I wish I could be as eloquent and thorough as
Manuel, Stefan, Aaron, Tara, et al, but I know that will not happen.  I
would, however, like to add a few of my thoughts on the subject.    First,
I think we need to begin is by looking in the mirror.  I believe that many
of the problems that have occurred in college debate are the result of
coaches pushing the unethical, and in some cases illegal, behavior by their
students.  We only need to look as far as the CEDA quarterfinal round a few
years ago to see that we, as coaches, are the ones that act in a manner
that makes debate a hostile environment for fellow coaches and our
students.  This is unacceptable.  I believe that the first step we should
take in ensuring that there is no bullying, harassment, etc. by our
students is to take forceful action against coaches that promote such
behavior.   I know this will not be a popular sentiment, but I think we
need to ban coaches who promote such behavior.  I run the tab room at the
biggest HS tournament in Western Pennsylvania, and I would never allow
Shanara Reid-Brinkley to step foot in a debate at my tournament.  If she
chose to coach a HS team, I would not allow that team to be entered in the
tournament.  The same would hold true for Bill Shanahan.  By eliminating
coaches that act in such a manner from our activity, we ensure that these
our students are not being influenced by such bad examples.  We set a
precedent for our students that if you act in a manner that is inconsistent
with the behavioral norms of debate, you are gone.  Thus, let us begin by
looking in the mirror. I also think that it is important that we ensure
that students who violate the norms of acceptable behavior at debate
tournaments are punished accordingly.  For example, if a student tells
his/her opponent in a round that they should kill themselves . that student
should be done with HS debate.  That student?s coach should be the one to
enforce such a rule, however, that is probably unrealistic.  Instead, I
think that if a student behaves in such a manner at a tournament, the
tournament director should inform all other tournament directors to not
accept that student into future tournaments.  That way, a student knows
that if their actions fall so far outside the bounds of acceptable
behavior, they will no longer be permitted to participate in this great
activity.   Finally, I think that the tabula rasa paradigm has gone to far.
 I have traditionally been a fan of ?anything goes? debate and have voted
for ?performance? teams more than I have voted against such teams.
 However, after what we have seen in college debate recently, I have
decided that enough is enough.  I have decided that I will no longer vote
for such a team and will give them 0 speaks.  I hope that this stops the
spread of what has killed college debate into the HS realm.  I?m not naive
enough to think that my one person stand will have such an impact, but I
hope that after the inevitable collapse of college debate, more people will
realize we need to return to a more traditional style of debate.  This does
not mean that we need to get rid of critical arguments, it just means that
such arguments need to be made in the context of the resolution.   * The
views expressed above are my own and do not reflect the views of Bethel
Parks SD, Bethel Park SHS, or my employer.   John M. Masslon II, Esq.
Policy Debate Coach, Bethel Park SHS *

phone: 703-791-9483
fax: 866-241-5219
e-mail: johnmasslon at gmail.com
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