Katelyn Sheehan Wins NCFL Grand Nationals

BALTIMORE, MD– Congratulations to Lake Braddock’s Katelyn Sheehan for defeating Harrison’s Danny DeBois to win this year’s National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Championship. Katelyn is coached by Duane Hyland; Danny is coached by Chetan Hertzig.

Results are embedded.

  • Rebar Niemi

    just to clarify: i’m deeply religious

    •  Considering that on the Social Services topic a few years ago our team ran “increase abortion funding” and got to semis of NCFL, I think the religion part is all played out.

      • I heard a team ran a sex toys 1AC on that topic and made it pretty far at NCFL, too, but that might just be a myth.

  • Rebar Niemi

    where can i find these bylaws so that i may distort and quote them for my own amusement at a later date?

  • Rebar Niemi

    hey at least the catholics finally admitted religion has no practical application.

  • Anonymous

    Ahhhh the annual post memorial day bashing of the NCFL by circuit debaters who didn’t break. Kudos to this website for hosting this installment of an annual ld tradition.

  • Paul Wexler

    A few cents-

    1) I do agree with you about the speaker point range, though there is something to be said for actually trying to use a 15 point system. Without normalizing the range it IS a problem,  as Zach says.

    I am the one who asked the two questions about them  at the general meeting actually, and will try to be more specific if need be with my followup next year if I am present.  During the tournament I assigned about three points lower than  my normal range.

    2) I don’t remember the rules actually banning practical applications so much as saying that debaters were not responsible for them. The NFL ballot says something similar BTW, though not in so many words (it is along the lines of the nature of proof stemming from the student’s analysis. ). As a judge I would interpret the phrasing of the  NCFL  policy  the same way.

    3) I don’t know what was said on the ballots that led to particular judges being called out. I suspect that the fact one of the them was signing ballots ‘as’ someone  suggests that he or she knew what they were doing wasn’t entirely kosher. In any case, I took the tab staff to mean that the judges were writing ad homs on the ballot, and that simply is not OK under any circumstances. If a student is THAT offensive or out of the norm, the nature of that behavior should be specified on the ballot.  If judges are insecure enough or hot tempered enough or self-important enough to write very harsh  personal comments, they probably should not be in an educational activity. Nationals or  no, we’re talking about students, not some professional league.

    It is partly because of inappropriate behavior/comments on the judges part that I feel the need to read through every single ballot before handing them back to my students. Even if it were only one tenth of one percent of all ballots, that still means a moderately sized team might get such a ballot every year.

    4)As for the  usual judging, it is what it is. In general, leagues are asked to assign their most experienced judges to the later elimination round pool. There is no enforcement mechanism though. If leagues choose to be free riders and  bring inexperienced people (or people who have different paradigms than the national curcuit might be used to), that is the tournament’s nature. If judges are being chosen blindly, the solution  as a ‘bottom up’ league   would be to encourage leagues to bring more experienced judges. Since the quota is one judge per debater, that might be difficult.

    I should caution   that one should be careful of that they wish for. People wrongly characterize the tournament as lay, when in actuality in the back of the room there is likely  one judge who is lay, one who is national curcuity- and one who likes debate the way they debated in 1999 (like Prince!) or even 1989. Both debaters in the final round this year provided  a very good example of how to debate in front of a mixed panel, so kudos to them.  Doing  well in front of such a mixed group is  considerably more challenging then going all-lay. And more experienced judges does NOT mean a more consistant pool, it might mean you get a judge who hates theory so much she/he wouldn’t spit in  the Living Personification of Theory’s ear if its brain was on fire,as opposed to being a lay judge would vote on it if clearly explained.

    5) One of the defining characteristics of NCFL, and the code system, is that most judges don’t know who has  seven bids to the TOC,  and wouldn’t care if they did know. They’re not even anti-TOC, TOC is just not part of their universe.  Whatever disadvantages that might create in the system (and they do exist of course), the politics are much different than that of other tournaments. There will be few accusations of such and such an institute’s alums winning on rep at NCFL- and there is something to be said for that.

  • Anonymous

    congrats to those who did well at this tournament, but it was largely a disgrace and given that the comments section has been used in the past to critique tournaments, hopefully this will be somewhat productive. 

    1) There was no speaker point scale at a tournament with a huge 4-1 screw. When asked for such a scale at the initial general meeting, the LD director gaffed that “Oh, its just varsity here”

    2) LD started at 7:30, in an un-air-conditioned high school with no food for miles, and a judges lounge that costed 25$ to enter, apparently the catholic forensics leagues still believes in indulgences to get into their judges lounge. Ironic because due to the lack of air conditioning it felt like hell.

    3) There
    was at least one instance where someone didn’t break because tab
    recorded a loss and a win. And it was round 5 and this person had a win
    30, so it was a pretty significant tab error.

    4) When a certain school checked in, they didn’t even have someone registered as a judge at
    all, and had a parent who didn’t intent to judge registered instead. The person who was supposed to be judging
    also ended up judging a round that turned out to be a forfeit, even
    though the missing debater had told tab she’d dropped out of the
    tournament a full 48 hours before it began.

    5) Codes were used, making it impossible to check judge paradigms in any fashion before the rounds. 

    6) On a sheet they distributed with the rules on it at the beginning of a tournament, they decided to ban “practical application” from being relevant in rounds. It turned out just like you would expect theory at CFLs to turn out.

    7) In an effort to make some supposedly inappropriate ballots more appropriate, the aforementioned tournament director “humorously” threatened violence while publicly demeaning judges who apparently broke an unwritten rule that ballots must be g-rated.

    8) I had several judges lament to me that they had never really judged LD before, one of which i saw judging an elim. While debaters who were not 18 months out of high school were banned from judging elims. Strange. 

    9) Oral critiques or decisions in elims were strictly banned, as was calling for cards.

    It did, however, run on time.

    • There was in fact a speaker point scale on the ballot. It was, however, a totally incoherent one where 15 was the floor, 15-17 was “below average” and 18-20 was “fair.” And your point #4 is conflating two things that happened to different schools.

      • Ah, you edited your comment and now mine looks wrong. #Awkwardmoments

    • Why in the world did I convince myself to attend the tournement.

      • Anonymous

        As far as I know, plugging in a laptop was in no way against the rules. The only rule was no connectivity. I had rounds throughout the tournament where debaters plugged in their laptops. No judge ever had a problem with it.

        • I almost had to concede 5th round because I was told by tab I could not plug in a laptop (my battery is crap, it needs to be plugged in to turn on). This is coming from the people running tab, not me or the bylaws. I had to do some things to get around it, but it was a thing.

          • Who from tab told you that?

          • Mathew Pregasen

            Alec, I think they might have misconstrued plugging as in plugging an internet cable.  Especially at the point of the 5th round, I imagine tab was a mess with the 3 judges per round and the flip.

    • Hmm.  I know some of the madness behind the madness on these points.  (I’m not an Official of the ncfl by any means, and I was in IE tab, not LD, but I do know many of the  officers and thus answers to these things by osmosis).

      1) There’s a scale on the ballot, though admittedly it’s a very different scale than the national circuit is used to; it’s very low, and so I imagine a lot of judges follow it inconsistently.

      2) The no-AC thing is a problem; it was unusually warm this weekend for late May.  If it makes you feel better, PF had it *way* worse on this front.   The judge lounge charge is a function of cost; NCFL entry fees are very low for what you get, $45 per person.  If they charged the $80-100 that most national circuit tournaments charged, I could see demanding free food, but I think saying “low-prices and buy your own food” is a legitimate choice.

      3)  Tab errors do happen, especially where disclosure is not the norm, but I’m sure they’d want to know about it.  I suggest documenting this and sending it to the incoming NCFL president, Greg Cunningham, or the overall tournament director, Roland Burdett; both are listed on the NCFL website points of contacts page.

      4) There are multiple points where these type of registration errors can be introduced along the way in a 220 debater division within a 4,000 person tournament. Registration is best done at the NCFL through your local diocesan director; you can always follow up with email to ncfl at tabroom dot com.   Other channels are less reliable.

      5) I disagree with the use of codes too, though the vast majority of judges at the NCFL won’t have paradigms anyway.  It’s the nature of the tournament that you’re debating for what essentially boils down to a PF audience.

      6)  Agree with it or no (and I don’t exactly), these guidelines are embedded in the bylaw’s description of LD.  It’s a really bad idea to spend hundreds of dollars and four days to go to a tournament, especially one that’s as far from your usual practice, and not read the invite or the rules and adapt accordingly.  When I was directing Yale I was seriously tempted to charge $50 every time someone asked a question or got mad about something that was clearly spelled out in the invite.

      7) Knowing Roland, he was certainly joking about the violence, but I can hardly find too much dispute with setting a tournament expectation that ballot comments be free of profanity.  I’m sure he chose to phrase it memorably because they’ve had troubles with this in the past.  There are reasons to disagree with NCFL norms but “keep the swearing off the ballot” is hardly that onerous.

      8) While judges are required by the bylaws to have judged the area they’re signed up to judge before, with a tournament this size, it’s difficult to enforce.  That said, you can notify the tournament if you have specific examples via the channels above, and they can talk to the local diocesan directors to be more vigilant about enforcing such things.  But again, it’s NCFLs, what are you expecting, hired circuit judging?  It’s a tournament all about debating to a general audience.

      9) I agree wholeheartedly with this one.  This is by far my biggest complaint about debate at the NCFL, that the schedule overrules much of the educational value of debate, and the judges’ ability to ensure it’s integrity.  Again, feedback can’t hurt on this score; I’m not sure how often the officers hear feedback on this front and therefore don’t understand how much it’s not liked among many debaters.

      And Alec, plugging in isn’t against an NCFL rule; the bylaws just specify that extempers shouldn’t expect to be able to plug in, because powering 220 computers in a single room isn’t something that many buildings can handle.  However, powering that many computers spread throughout an entire school building is not unreasonable.  

      I suspect someone was over-interpreting that rule in debateland.  Again, it’s something that you may want to report upwards.

      • Anonymous

        you seem to largely agree with me so i will just address a couple

        1) There was a scale, but a more concrete description from the director would have cleared up a lot of confusion.

        2) If they were trying to make money off of an expensive judges lounge then they failed tremendously as it looked largely empty throughout the day. Not everything at a tournament has to turn a profit and when a sizeable amount of judges had to judge ten rounds straight a free judges lounge would have been a nice gesture.

        6) I read every page of the NCFL bylaws for LD before the tournament and double checked after I saw this rule on the sheet they distributed the morning of competition and I just could not find it. There was no way to know that this rule was going to be put in place. Adapting to the rule was nearly impossible due to the resolution and the vagueness of the rule just made things worse. This isn’t a huge issue but it caused enough confusion to at least decide a fair bit of W’s and L’s.

        7) I recognize that the LD director was joking (it was also not the person you are thinking of considering it was a woman). I’m also pretty sure that it was not swearing, rather just what the director saw as a very harsh criticism.

        8) General audience is fine, but when they are trying to make themselves a national championship tournament they should probably attempt to at least put judges who know the activity into the important elim rounds and not the parents with questionable experience. It doesn’t have to be hired circuit judging, but flowing would be nice.

        • Mathew Pregasen

          To be fully honest I think the 3 judges per round is ridiculous.  Given the magnitude of the needed judging pool, you are having judges who have never judged, and then judges who have very specific ways of judging rounds.  This allows for two judges to disagree on the way you are supposed to act in the round (ie use/dont use the terminology like “extend” (This happened to me twice)).  Most people say “adapt” but you can not adapt if you have 3 possibly very distinct judges.  It just becomes then luck by chance in who gets more “unified” panels to avoid getting screwed on ballot count.  

          Not to mention 3 judges made things slower, harder, and arbitrary.  I heard stories of judges so committed to certain debate paradigms in expressively voting in the round by folding up the ballots midway during a speech and stop flowing.  They say judges can’t talk to each other, but they don’t cover the “facial expressions.”

          I understand 3 judges is key for outrounds to prevent bad decisions, but in outrounds its suitable to adapt to 2/3 judges, because ballots no longer matter as long as you get the W.  

          I’m no pro in tournament staffing but I suggest a few alternates:

              1) Make it two judges per round.  This SEVERELY reduces the impact of arbitrariness because then you are forced to look to two judges and the likelihood of two opposite judges in the room is decreased.  Also this would promote the judges to cooperate.  You would have W, D, L (Win, Draw, Loss) like a round robin setting.  Ballot count still will matter then if the CFL is committed to that.  
              2) 1 judge per round, single flight it, and extend it to 6-7 rounds to reduce the “screw pool” (ie less 4-2 screws/5-2 screws than 4-1 screws).     However, you would need a larger facility though I believe a large number of rooms in Catonsville highschool were unused and I am sure you have larger highschools in the area.  

          • Mathew Pregasen

            Also want to add a lack of paradigms makes adapting even harder.  Because there are three judges in the room, they were barely able to get decisive paradigms in because of time.  

        • Anonymous

          Actually – there was airconditioning at the LD site, but by the end of the 4th round, it couldn’t keep up with the 92 degree almost record temperature.

          Re: food – Chris Palmer is spot on… additionally, the $25 was an option to get all meals at one price. Another choice was to buy as you go… got lunch for $5 that way.

          Regarding judges and the ballot comments – I was at the meeting and the LD Chair asked that “the adults act like adults”… given the fact that a large section of the audience applauded her remarks, I think it shows that coaches are sick of the non-constructive comments by judges that choose to write about themselves or call debaters “stupid” or “dumb” or tell the student that they were bored or would prefer to be reading a book rather than judging the round.

          • Anonymous

             the second floor, where most of the rounds were, literally did not have air conditioning. some rooms had fans, but those typically didn’t do much.

            this is just a lie, all of the judges i talked too were just downright pissed off about the 25$ fee for the judges lounge, it wasnt some lunch special, the little kids sitting outside the lounge wouldnt let you in unless you had a wristband that you had to pay the 25 for.

          • Anonymous

            Not a lie – just a case of people not reading the signs… the other food was the items for sale in the cafeteria that the judges could then take to the area set aside for them… I asked the Baltimore host staff and was directed correctly (and they showed me the sign too).

          • Anonymous

            if its not a lie, it still sounds like a huge miscommunication problem that led to judges not using the lounge after being led on to pay the fee.

          • Mathew Pregasen

            Regardless… these are judges who have traveled here because of requirements, and are really tired having to be up so early.  To charge them for food when they are judging for free is ridiculous.  At least the schools should have been notified ahead of time to pay for thier judges.  

        •  1) yeah explicitly calling out the scale is probably a good idea. I’ll pass it on.

          2) they’re not trying to make money, just cover costs.  But the point remains the same, $25 is steep.  But that sort of thing is up to the local hosts; so it’ll be different next year, and the year after, and the year after….

          6) Here I have to quibble; I called up the bylaws, found the LD section, and the line about practical applications is right there.

          8) Elim judge placement is very tough at that tournament.  I’ve helped a lot with judge placement on IE side and it’s kind of a nightmare; you’re left with this giant list of people, of whom you know three, and have little information beyond the number of years the person has judged.   I’ve tried to make headway on that one, but haven’t had much success.  Suggestions are welcome…and you can’t just say “just place the judges you know”, that does exclude large numbers of people and whole regions of the country.