Sean Lavelle ParadigmLast changed 11/5 8:50P EDT
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My experience is 4 years of high school debate @ St. Ignatius (toc/state/local/allthecircuits), one year of college debate @ Michigan State, and 3 years of coaching experience @ St. Ignatius High School (Cleveland). I currently study political science @ Ohio State.
Tldr: you do you, fairly open to anything; clash, comparison, nuance, and impact calculus win debates; have fun, don’t cheat, and be engaged!
I will probably leave something out or not make something very clear. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO ASK ME. I’m still learning/absorbing a lot about the way that I judge, so my preferences aren't very concrete at the moment.
I try to let the debate play out and do my absolute best to let the debaters tell me how to evaluate the round. I’d think I’m fairly open to just about any argument one could make, as long as it’s relevance is well articulated and impacted out.
I place high value in the craft of the activity and debater’s engagement with the relevant arguments at stake. I guess this means the more interested and engaged you seem about the debate and your arguments, the more interested and engaged I will be. Debate is an amazing activity and it should be both fun and educational for everyone involved.
I ask for speech docs mostly for my post-round decision-making (instead of having to call for cards). I rarely will follow along ur speech doc (cuz its not your speech…) but I sometimes will refer to it if something peaks my interest, to follow certain cx threads, or if I suspect someone of clipping cards or other malpractice. I will not substitute any inferences or knowledge I happen to gain from reading your ev during the round for how the evidence and arguments are debated. I will make determinations about evidence quality if there is high-level of comparison/analysis done on ev by the debaters (or sadly, sometimes in the event that there is none of this and I have to decide myself).
Speed = # of arguments communicated per minute (not words per minute). Efficiency + clarity are important.
Tech > truth, but big-picture framing of the debate often dictates my ballot allot more than technical aspects of things like line-by-line.
I’m not strictly offense/defense minded, but that way of thinking does have some inevitability in my head. However, I do believe that it’s possible for something to have a risk of 0%, and a great defensive argument is better than a bad offensive argument.
I might (?) have a higher bar than other judges for what constitutes an “argument”. Short-blips, two-word buzzwords, etc. are things that I will likely either miss or not understand. I will not vote for an argument that I cannot explain back to you.
Politics/Generic DA: I’m a big fan of DAs with a high level of nuance, especially on the link/internal link story, that also implicate a lot of the affirmative. If you think you’re DA is “generic”, make sure to try to make sound more specific/unique to the aff (analysis on why your link/internal link ev would be true of the aff)… this is especially relevant to politics DAs. While I’m sad with the current state of politics DAs, I think it could be a wake-up call for teams to find and read more intricate and specific internal link/link stories.
Aff teams often foreclose opportunities to do some serious mitigation of DAs with well-thought out analytics, by instead choosing to just read more cards. That’s not always the best idea.
CPs: I’m a sucker for really well-thought out and strategic CPs, like certain PICs, advantage CPs, or well-researched mechanism CPs. That being said, I have a higher bar for CP competition. Not as good for CPs that result in the entirety of the affirmative (process/consult CPs). That instinct could easily be changed if the CP has a solvency advocate in the context of the affirmative (eg: if there is a process/or consultable actor that’s HIGHLY relevant to the affs plan or case)… but what a proper solvency advocate comprises is also debatable.
With regards to the states CP: I think its definitely legitimate negative ground and has lot’s of strategic utility, however, the more magic wands of fiat you have to use to get out of the aff’s solvency deficits the less inclined I am to buy its legitimacy. DO NOT READ THIS AS “don’t read a states CP with lot’s of planks to deal with different arguments”. This is about how you explain how the CP skirts through certain solvency deficits.
T/Theory: I think I’m a better judge than most for topicality, as long as you have a good argument and set a clear vision for the topic…. Why it’s a voting issue.. etc.. generally I default to competing interpretations, but can be persuaded otherwise.
Ks: I’ve become a lot better for the K since high school as I’ve delved into more of the literature/thought about the strategic utility of the K. However, that doesn’t mean you should assume I will understand your K. I’m better for Ks that have a high level of clash with the affirmative (the alt/impact level somehow implicates case). I think the aff should probably get to weigh the material effects of the plan. I also think I should be able to easily understand/conceptualize your alt.
Kritikal affirmatives: I think the affirmative team should generally have an advocacy/stable defense of SOMETHING, but I can certainly be persuaded that this does not require a ‘topical plan’. If you’re not a “topical discussion”, I’d like to at least hear a “discussion of the topic”. The framework/topicality debate is something I’m pretty open with and can see both sides of the debate. For the neg going for framework/topicality arguments, I’m more persuaded by advocacy skills/solvency type arguments than procedural fairness questions. But again this is something that’s open for debate.