Theis T(h)ursday: Decision Times

I may have stumbled on a theme. Last week I wrote about changing affirmative speech times, and this week it’s decision times.

On Monday the Glenbrooks announced that they would be implementing decision times in VLD and VCX. Here is how Tara Tate and Michael Greenstein explained the change:

This year at the Glenbrooks we are implementing a decision time in VCX and VLD. Decision time simply means there will be a deadline by which the judge must make a decision in each debate. Each round’s decision time deadline is based on the Tabroom pairing start time. If the judge does not enter a decision in tabroom by the decision time, it is within the Tabroom’s power to flip a coin to determine the winner of that debate. We do intend to enforce this but hope we don’t have to.

For example, in a policy prelim with 130 minutes for decision time, if the Tabroom pairing start time is 8am, the judge must enter the decision into Tabroom by 10:10am or the tabroom will flip a coin to determine the winner.

Oral critiques can still take place after the decision deadline and written feedback on Tabroom can be edited until the end of the entire tournament.

It is very important to note that the decision time does not change if the debate starts late. There is an incentive for the students and judge(s) to begin the debate at the Tabroom pairing start time and to exchange evidence via email chains throughout the debate and after the debate in a timely manner.

Coaches, please make sure the people judging for your school are aware of the use of decision times and start their debates on time.

Use of decision time has been extremely successful in college policy debate and at the tournaments where the high school community has piloted it.

In VCX, the decision time for prelims will be 130 minutes after the tabroom pairing time for each debate and for elims it will be 140 minutes after the tabroom pairing time for each debate.

In VLD, the decision time for prelims will be 70 minutes after the tabroom pairing time for each flight and for elims it will be 75 minutes after the tabroom pairing time for each flight.

Full disclosure: as a member of the Glenbrooks tabroom they consulted me about whether the tournament should use decision times this year. I strongly support the move, and we will almost certainly implement decision times at the Minneapple next year.

Over the last few years, it has become challenging to fit LD rounds into tournament schedules without significant delays. Debaters and judges alike now seem to view round start times as the time at which they should begin the process of moving toward the room, getting water, going to the bathroom, etc. Combine those tactics with rampant prep stealing, email chain issues, and judges reading through evidence at the end of rounds, and debates that should take around 45 minutes now routinely take twice that long or more. Doubles at the Minneapple took over 120 minutes.

I think decision times combined with strong forfeit rules, and at least 30 minutes to prep between schematics being posted and start times, is a fair solution to the problem.

Do you agree, or have I just become a curmudgeon?

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