Background on Qualification Change

Summary: Tournaments will give checkmarks to the top 38% of the participating field. Currently with our “two more wins than losses” language, we are awarding around the top 38% according to the analysis from the 2020-21 season and the analysis from the 2021-22 season. (This varies from tournament to tournament.) Awarding the top 38% of the final tournament ranking standardizes the number of checkmarks we are currently awarding from each tournament for NITOC qualification which can vary significantly.

Some Background

1) Fairness: In the current system, students with a higher final placing at the tournament will sometimes not receive a check mark even though they have beaten other teams with checkmarks. This is unfair and not reflective of their overall performance. We should reward this accomplishment. The competition doesn't end with prelims if outrounds are held.

2) Consistency: Awarding a percentage instead of “Two more wins than losses” is consistent with what we are doing on the speech side. Consistency is valuable but there is another advantage that using the percentage in both areas affords: if at any point, the speech world needs to cut back on the number of contenders at NITOC, they could announce that for one or more (or all) speech events, students need to be in the top X% at a local tournament instead of the top 40% as it is now. This could be a great tool both for speech and debate, to be able to limit the events that are overwhelming us (e.g. Cold Reading, Impromptu, etc.) and at the same time to encourage the events in which we want to encourage more competitors (e.g. Oratory Analysis, Dramatic Interpretation, etc).

This change also produces consistency among all tournaments regarding the amount of check marks each is awarding for debate events. A team would have the same chance at receiving a check mark from any tournament in the country.

3) Simplicity: It is not difficult to figure out the top 38%. Any software can list the teams in order at the end of the tournament. Tab would just draw a line to determine the top 38% and those are the teams that would receive a checkmark.

4) “Winning record” is not entirely an accurate term since in theory a 4-3 (a winning record) would not get a checkmark. See below for explanation from Speechranks. Even our current system reverts back to looking at fractions and percentages. We should use correct terminology.

Speechranks explanation: To keep the math the same for all tournaments,
students/teams with a 3-2 or 4-3 record would need to win at least one
out round, making their record 4-2 or 5-3 (thus placing them in the top one-
third of students/teams) to earn a Green Check Mark.

5) Make Outrounds great again! Outrounds are very much undervalued in the league today. Debaters are thrilled to break, but only because it means they are probably 4-2. Students work just hard enough to make sure they break and get a check, but they don’t put much effort into trying to win outrounds. Outrounds is where true excellence is tested - in prelims it’s easy to win 2-3 rounds simply by randomly debating novice/less experienced teams. There was a novice team that was randomly paired against 4 other novices, and thus went 4-2 at their first tournament! They had quite a lucky draw at a tournament with no power-matching. Those scenarios will always happen, but out-rounds can help compensate for them. Many students have the attitude that they can “afford to lose two rounds” in prelims. But they would have a different attitude if they had to win an outround to move into a higher tier.

6) League Growth: Growth is a big priority for Stoa. As we continue to help small clubs grow, and expand to states where Stoa doesn’t exist, we will see an increase in the number of students and tournaments. This is great! But that growth will be unsustainable if we continue to keep current qualification standards. At some point we will need to adjust our standards to accommodate the growing number of students.

Additionally, finding NITOC facilities large enough to accommodate all qualified teams may become a problem as the league grows. Changing the qualification standard can help keep NITOC a reasonable size.

7) No Additional Tournament Burden: Another common suggestion for increasing qualifying difficulty is to move to a 3 check model (as we moved from 1 to 2 previously). But this dramatically increases the burden to attend more tournaments, which may not be available in some areas, and can be cost prohibitive. Keeping a 2 check model, but simply adjusting the percentage of students who can receive those checks, keeps tournament attendance reasonable for everyone.

8) Analysis Supports Change: Tournament Analysis of check marks awarded from the 2020-21 season and the 2021-22 season supports the 38% figure. Currently about 38% of the competitive field in any debate event receive checkmarks. This change keeps the actual qualification percentage rate about the same as it is now.