Cort Sylvester Paradigm

Last changed 10/14 5:11P CDT

Head coach, Rosemount, MN. Do both policy & LD, and I don’t approach them very differently.

I’m a chubby, gray-haired, middle-aged white dude, no ink, usually wearing a golf shirt or an Iron Maiden shirt. If that makes you think I’m kind of old-school and lean toward soft-left policy stuff rather than transgressive reimaginations of debate, you ain’t wrong. Also, I’m a lawyer, so I understand the background of legal topics and issues better than most debaters and judges. (And I can tell when you don’t, which is most of the time.)

I was a decent college debater in the last half of the 1980s (never a first-round, but cleared at NDT), and I’ve been coaching for over 25 years. So I’m not a lay judge, and I’m mostly down with a “circuit” style—speed doesn’t offend me, I focus on the flow and not on presentation, theory doesn’t automatically seem like cheating, etc. However, by paradigm, I'm an old-school policymaker. The round is a thought experiment about whether the plan is a good idea (or, in LD, whether the resolution is true).

I try to minimize intervention. I'm more likely to default to "theoretical" preferences (how arguments interact to produce a decision) than "substantive" or "ideological" preferences (the merits or “truth” of a position). I don't usually reject arguments as repugnant, but if you run white supremacist positions or crap like that, I might. I'm a lot less politically "lefty" than most circuit types (my real job is defending corporations in court, after all). I distrust conspiracy theories, nonscientific medicine, etc.

I detest the K. I don't understand most philosophy and don't much care to, so most K literature is unintelligible junk to me. (I think Sokal did the world a great service.) I'll listen and process (nonintervention, you know), but I can't guarantee that my understanding of it at the end of the round is going to match yours. I'm especially vulnerable to “no voter” arguments. I’m also predisposed to think that I should vote for an option that actually DOES something to solve a problem. Links are also critical, and “you’re roleplaying as the state” doesn’t seem like a link to me. (It’s a thought experiment, remember.) I’m profoundly uncomfortable with performance debates. I tend not to see how they force a decision. I'll listen, and perhaps be entertained, but need to know why I must vote for it.

T is cool and is usually a limitations issue. I don't require specific in-round abuse--an excessively broad resolution is inherently abusive to negs. K or performance affs are not excused from the burden of being topical. Moreover, why the case is topical probably needs to be explained in traditional debate language--I have a hard time understanding how a dance move or interpretive reading proves T. Ks of T start out at a disadvantage. Some K arguments might justify particular interpretations of the topic, but I have a harder time seeing why they would make T go away. You aren’t topical simply because you’ve identified some great injustice in the world.

Counterplans are cool. Competition is the most important element of the CP debate, and is virtually always an issue of net benefits. Perms are a good test of competition. I don't have really strong theoretical biases on most CP issues. I do prefer that CPs be nontopical, but am easily persuaded it doesn't matter. Perms probably don't need to be topical, and are usually just a test of competitiveness. I think PICs are seldom competitive and might be abusive. All of these things are highly debatable.

Some LD-specific stuff:

Framework is usually unimportant to me. If it needs to be important to you, it’s your burden to tell me how it affects my decision. The whole “philosophy is gibberish” thing still applies in LD. Dense, auto-voter frameworks usually lose me. If you argue some interpretation of the topic that says you automatically win, I’m very susceptible to the response that that makes it a stupid interp I should reject.

LD theory usually comes across as bastardized policy theory. It often doesn’t make sense to me in the context of LD. Disclosure theory seems to me like an elitist demand that the rest of the world conform to circuit norms.

I am more likely to be happy with a disad/counterplan type of LD debate than with an intensely philosophical or critical one. I’ll default to util if I can’t really comprehend how I’m supposed to operate in a different framework.

Feel free to ask about specific issues. I'm happy to provide further explanation of these things or talk about any issues not in this statement.

Full Judging Record

Tournament Date Ev Rd Aff Neg Vote Result
2020 MSHSL Section 6AA Debate 1/8/2020 VLD R4 Wayzata NN St. Louis Park JR Neg
2020 MSHSL Section 6AA Debate 1/8/2020 VLD R3 St Michael Albertville RH Edina AV Neg
2020 MSHSL Section 6AA Debate 1/8/2020 VLD R2 Robbinsdale Armstrong KH Robbinsdale Cooper OS Aff
2020 MSHSL Section 6AA Debate 1/8/2020 VLD R1 Edina MR Minnetonka PB Aff
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/20/2019 LD Double West Des Moines Valley IN Lexington JC Aff Aff on a 2-1
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/20/2019 LD R5 Apple Valley NB St Michael Albertville RD Aff
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/20/2019 LD R4 New Trier TS Greenhill KD Neg
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/20/2019 LD R4 Lexington CL Edina AV Neg
The Dowling Catholic Paradigm 12/13/2019 VLD Octafi Lincoln Southwest PV Rockhurst GA Aff Aff on a 2-1
The Dowling Catholic Paradigm 12/13/2019 VLD R4 Brookings AT Bettendorf NR Neg
The Dowling Catholic Paradigm 12/13/2019 VLD R3 St. Louis Park JR Lincoln Southeast TR Neg
The Dowling Catholic Paradigm 12/13/2019 VLD R1 Lincoln AL Bettendorf CE Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/23/2019 VLD R7 Vestavia Hills RC Immaculate Heart SO Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/23/2019 VLD R3 Durham JP Harvard-Westlake AG Neg
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/23/2019 VLD R2 Westlake FD Greenhill KD Neg
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/13/2019 PF R5 Blake JS Blake OP Aff Aff on a 3-0
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/13/2019 LD R5 Eagan AK Eagan JS Aff Aff on a 3-0
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/13/2019 BQ R4 Eagan HA Eagan AH Neg Neg on a 3-0
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/13/2019 PF R4 Chaska OV Blake JS Neg Neg on a 3-0
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/13/2019 LD R4 Eden Prairie AG Eagan AI Aff Aff on a 3-0
Apple Valley MinneApple Debate 11/8/2019 VLD Trip Eagan BT Dougherty Valley KD Neg Neg on a 2-1
Apple Valley MinneApple Debate 11/8/2019 VLD R6 St. Croix Prep HG Dougherty Valley KKa Neg
Apple Valley MinneApple Debate 11/8/2019 VLD R5 Lake Highland Prep AM Westlake EE Neg
Apple Valley MinneApple Debate 11/8/2019 VLD R3 Loyola JA Lincoln East ZC Aff
Apple Valley MinneApple Debate 11/8/2019 VLD R2 Lakeville AE Loyola BMa Neg
Apple Valley MinneApple Debate 11/8/2019 VLD R1 Edina AJ Dougherty Valley KK Neg
Duluth Denfeld Zenith City Debate Tournament 10/12/2019 NLD R4 Eagan BW Mahtomedi TA Aff
Duluth Denfeld Zenith City Debate Tournament 10/12/2019 JVLD R3 Bemidji SG Roseville Area TE Neg
Duluth Denfeld Zenith City Debate Tournament 10/12/2019 JVLD R2 Denfeld VS East Ridge RB Aff
Duluth Denfeld Zenith City Debate Tournament 10/12/2019 JVLD R1 Mahtomedi AK Eagan JS Neg
Mid America Cup 9/21/2019 VLD R6 West Des Moines Valley AA Strake Jesuit DL Neg
Mid America Cup 9/21/2019 VLD R6 Evanston Twp GK West Des Moines Valley CF Aff
Mid America Cup 9/21/2019 VLD R5 King AN Harrison AA Neg
Mid America Cup 9/21/2019 VLD R5 Eagan AC West Des Moines Valley TH Neg
Mid America Cup 9/21/2019 VLD R1 William G. Enloe TG Harker DS Neg
National Speech and Debate Tournament 6/17/2019 CX R10 X190 X192 Aff Neg on a 2-1
National Speech and Debate Tournament 6/17/2019 CX R5 X258 X210 Neg
National Speech and Debate Tournament 6/17/2019 CX R2 X273 X163 Neg Neg on a 2-0
National Speech and Debate Tournament 6/17/2019 CX R1 X203 X138 Neg Neg on a 2-0
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/14/2018 LD Double West Des Moines Valley CT Greenhill AZ Aff Neg on a 2-1
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/14/2018 LD R6 Scarsdale ZS New Trier PT Neg
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/14/2018 LD R2 Greenhill AM Southwoods CG Aff
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/14/2018 LD R2 West Des Moines Valley JW Greenhill MR Neg
The Paradigm at Dowling Catholic 12/7/2018 CX 32 Iowa City WC Glenbrook South GS Aff Neg on a 2-1
The Paradigm at Dowling Catholic 12/7/2018 CX R6 Glenbrook North BS Washington WM Aff
The Paradigm at Dowling Catholic 12/7/2018 CX R5 Washington RN Northside College Prep BS Neg
The Paradigm at Dowling Catholic 12/7/2018 CX R4 Walter Payton CP HP West SD Aff
The Paradigm at Dowling Catholic 12/7/2018 CX R1 Glenbrook North NR Homestead WK Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/17/2018 VLD R6 Marlborough GN Harker AD Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/17/2018 VLD R5 Immaculate Heart FP Mountain Brook MC Neg
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/17/2018 VLD R5 Neenah MA Harker AM Neg
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/17/2018 VLD R4 Lakeville North AC Harker KS Neg
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/17/2018 VLD R4 Harker AR Oakwood School - North Hollywood MC Aff
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/14/2018 CX R6 Edina AL Eagan LS Neg Neg on a 3-0
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/14/2018 PF R6 Blake GJ Lakeville South CT Aff Aff on a 3-0
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/14/2018 PF R5 Eagan GV Lakeville South CT Neg Neg on a 3-0
Southern Minnesota District Tournament 11/14/2018 PF R5 Eagan CU Lakeville North SH Neg Neg on a 2-1
The Iowa Caucus 10/19/2018 LD R6 Bettendorf CE Valley C TH Neg
The Iowa Caucus 10/19/2018 LD R5 Valley C LB West Des Moines Valley CT Neg
The Iowa Caucus 10/19/2018 LD R4 Valley C ZM Bettendorf NRa Neg
Mid America Cup 9/21/2018 VLD R6 West Des Moines Valley CG Harker KM Neg
Mid America Cup 9/21/2018 VLD R6 American Heritage Plantation AD Eagan AK Aff
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/15/2017 CX R3 Glenbrook South BF Glenbrook North FF Neg
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/15/2017 CX R2 Glenbrook North BR Sioux Falls Lincoln FM Aff
John Edie Holiday Debates Hosted by The Blake School 12/15/2017 CX R1 Stevens Point Area Senior High (SPASH) SB Central HS - St Paul LD Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/18/2017 VLD R7 Harker KS Carroll HS - Southlake SM Neg
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/18/2017 VLD R7 Apple Valley SA Brookfield RL Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/18/2017 VLD R6 Brookfield AB Anderson WM Neg
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/18/2017 VLD R6 Harker LF Park Tudor NM Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/18/2017 VLD R5 Harker AD Chanhassen ER Aff
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/18/2017 VLD R3 John Paul II KA Apple Valley KA Neg
Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/18/2017 VLD R3 Immaculate Heart DD Neg
Tamar Kaplan Invitational at Highland Park 11/10/2017 VAR R1 Eagan KS Minneapolis Washburn EP Neg
Valley Mid America Cup 9/23/2017 VLD Double Lake Highland Prep SG Lexington VR Aff Aff on a 2-1
Valley Mid America Cup 9/23/2017 VLD R5 Evanston Twp ZS Harker SS Neg
Valley Mid America Cup 9/23/2017 VLD R3 North Hollywood JS Strake Jesuit College Prep VL Neg
Valley Mid America Cup 9/23/2017 VLD R2 Law Magnet MG Centennial AC Aff
Valley Mid America Cup 9/23/2017 VLD R1 Los Altos PD Urbana DP Aff
Valley Mid America Cup 9/23/2017 VLD R1 Los Altos NH Apple Valley TH Neg
Niles Township Invitational 9/8/2017 POL Dbls Evanston Twp LC Glenbrook North KR Neg Neg on a 2-1
Niles Township Invitational 9/8/2017 POL Rd 6 Maine East PB Glenbrook North DL Neg
Niles Township Invitational 9/8/2017 POL Rd 5 Maine East PS Glenbrook South YP Aff
Niles Township Invitational 9/8/2017 POL Rd 4 St. John's Jesuit LD Glenbrook North MB Aff
Niles Township Invitational 9/8/2017 POL Rd 3 Glenbrook North DJ RTC Medical Prep AR Aff
Niles Township Invitational 9/8/2017 POL Rd 2 Lindblom Math and Science MS Glenbrook North BF Neg
Niles Township Invitational 9/8/2017 POL Rd 1 Maine East LR Northside CP HZ Neg
Grand Nationals 5/27/2017 CX Quarts 133 175 Aff Aff on a 2-1
Grand Nationals 5/27/2017 CX Octos 113 181 Aff Neg on a 2-1
Grand Nationals 5/27/2017 CX Dbl Oc 162 119 Aff Aff on a 3-0
Grand Nationals 5/27/2017 CX R5 164 180 Neg Neg on a 2-1
Grand Nationals 5/27/2017 CX R4 112 127 Neg Neg on a 3-0
Grand Nationals 5/27/2017 CX R3 137 135 Aff Neg on a 2-1
Grand Nationals 5/27/2017 CX R2 182 134 Aff Neg on a 2-1
Grand Nationals 5/27/2017 CX R1 196 197 Neg Neg on a 2-1
2016 Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/19/2016 VLD R6 St Thomas Academy/Visitation NW Millburn AJ Aff
2016 Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/19/2016 VLD R4 Meadows ER Amos Alonzo Stagg BA Aff
2016 Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/19/2016 VLD R3 Ashland GD Marlborough GK Neg
2016 Glenbrooks Speech and Debate Tournament 11/19/2016 VLD R3 Lakeville South KR St Thomas Academy/Visitation SK Neg
UMN High School Invitational 10/7/2016 Var R1 Wayzata KS Central HS - St Paul ILW Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD Octafi Peninsula JL New Trier LK Aff Aff on a 2-1
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD Octafi Peninsula IG WDM Valley TG Neg Neg on a 3-0
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD Double Scarsdale ZE Oakwood North JW Neg Neg on a 3-0
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD R6 New Trier CM WDM Valley JM Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD R5 WDM Valley LG ISM / ERA HB Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD R5 WDM Valley TF Cambridge Rindge PO Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD R3 Peninsula IG Blaine HP Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD R3 WDM Valley TG Cambridge Rindge OS Neg
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD R2 Scarsdale ZE Apple Valley JB Neg
John Edie Holiday Tournament Hosted by Blake 12/18/2015 LD R1 Ft. Lauderdale HB Apple Valley TE Neg
The Glenbrooks 11/21/2015 LD R5 Dulles AW Greenhill VA Neg
The Glenbrooks 11/21/2015 LD R5 West MT Meadows KB Neg
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD Triple Bronx Science CL Scarsdale GZ Aff Aff on a 3-0
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD Triple Scarsdale AY Greenhill VA Neg Neg on a 3-0
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R6 Marquette University HL WDM Valley AZ Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R5 WDM Valley WG Bronx Science ID Neg
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R4 Fargo Shanley EE Scarsdale AY Neg
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R4 Eagan KM Bronx Science RR Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R3 Walt Whitman NL Millburn WH Neg
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R3 Scarsdale RG Brookfield East NH Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R2 St Thomas Academy/Visitation SK Champlin Park KW Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R2 William G. Enloe WS WDM Valley HS Aff
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R1 Manchester Essex NA Lexington DA Neg
John Edie Holiday Tournament at Blake 12/19/2014 LD R1 St Thomas Academy/Visitation NW Eagan DC Aff