Last weekend 6 teams & 5 judges from SSE Riga & LMT Debate club traveled to Vilnius to participate in Vilnius Open 2007 (personally I was surprised that the tournament was not called “Vilnius Rotary International 2007”.. Still it seemed that there were enough sponsors to cover all the costs of the tournament)
However, that is not relevant. On contrary, the relevant fact is that none of our teams were de facto able to win the competition. Even though at least one definitely did!
Before going to Vilnius I thought that there is a huge problem with debating (and judging) quality and popularity in Latvia. Now I believe that the problem in Lithuania is even greater 😉
- First thing that didn’t make any sense was the Finals’ panel having six judges. I mean this is an even number that can split up in two equal parts. If we believe that all adjudicators judging Finals must be really good, it doesn’t make sense that the Chair has more influence than others. Surprise, surprise – that was the case..
- Secondly, one tries to have mostly reasonable judges on the Finals panel (not people who have only been 2nd and 3rd judges in preliminary rounds) that ensures high quality of the decision. I mean if you can’t get the amount you desire (6?!) then go for a lesser amount but higher quality!
- The last issue is general evaluation of debaters as anyone can talk. What makes a difference between a good speech and not so good is the argumentation. And I do not mean ‘slogan arguments’ and h20, I mean analysis, clarification, reasoning, illustration etc. Precisely such matter differentiates shallow debaters from deeply analytical ones, furthermore, judges are supposed to notice that difference.
Do understand me correctly – I do not want to say that Vilnius Open 2007 was a crap or something.. We had good fun, champaign & wine as well as positive and negative emotions. We are extremely thankful to the organizers for letting us come, especially in such numbers 😛
What I want to say is that unless we work hard to improve our debating societies we won’t be able to compete with normal teams from IONA, US or Australia (even though we have seen that it is possible!). We have to work hard to improve our judging and coaching capacity throughout the Baltics (I hope that Euros in Estonia will help for this!) that will further strengthen our debating capacity. We also need to establish a good debating tradition in this region that could be done by organizing more tournaments in English (we might have one in Latvia around April, 2008).
.. sitting in the freshly built and fancy hall of Mykolas Romeris University, I felt the same as when I was in Vilnius for the first time – when the second Government added new details to the plan and could end up winning the round.
These are not the times our debating tradition should return to!!