Greenhill Round Robin and Tournament- A Few Thoughts

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The Greenhill tournament finished yesterday, after a long three days of competition and two days of the round robin before it. An interesting start to the year to say the least.

One of my first questions when I looked at this years policy topic was "Are the courts topical?" Well, after the round robin, it seems the consensus is yes. I'm not sure anyone beat an aff that used the Supreme Court, or a Federal District Court, on Topicality Increase- your plan just removes a barrier. This is great for the aff- especially if you can find evidence for District Courts, since most of the major courts disads are based on Supreme Court action.

But maybe more importantly, I think this could be really bad for the neg. The main reason- since the plan doesn't provide a social service, but instead makes a court decision that would compel the congress or federal agencies to provide services, it will make it even harder to win generic links to social services, and virtually impossible to run a textually competitive social services pic.

Since hardly any affs include "increase social service for persons living in poverty" in the plan, the neg doesn't get the counter plan ground to exclude "exclude social service" with a rhetoric of social services bad critique, or some disads with links to social services as the net benefit. Negs could replace the term social service with another term OR a completely different type of assistance, like cash payments (couple this with a topicality argument about social services can't be cash payments- that would be welfare; and some solvency arguments about why financial incentives modify behavior better than social services), and have a textually and functionally competitive counterplan.

My concern is that with the popularity of perm do the counterplan arguments, the aff will win their interpretation that "the neg has to read a textually AND functionally competitive counterplan", and as a result not have to debate counterplans that use another type of assistance. That would mean no mandate counterplans against incentives affs last year, one of my favorite counterplans. I'm not the biggest fan of the rhetoric of poverty counterplans, but counterplans that would test social services by providing a different kind of assistance are very important for neg ground and strategy formation, as well as education about social services.

I really disagree with people who look at this as a poverty topic- in my opinion, this is a social services topic. It's what limits the action- poverty is who gets the service- that's advantage ground. If affirmatives aren't forced to defend social services, they'll have a field day and dominate this years topic, and students will learn very little about social services and why policymakers prefer them to welfare programs.

My second year in college debate was the development assistance to Africa topic, and after running the exclude "horn of africa" a lot, one of the unt debaters ran into this problem- instead of saying horn of africa, affs just listed the countries. So, in a lot of their 1ncs they included a theory argument that the aff should have to put all the words of the resolution in their plan. Hopefully my discussion of textually and functionally competitive cps shows that the ground the neg loses isn't just exclude the rhetoric of poverty or social services. And it would seem that "the neg has a right to this ground" since it's in the wording of the topic.

And here i am blogging about losing textually competitive counterplans and the only debates i judged were critique debates. At the round robin, the negative went for a capitalism bad critique. First debate at the tournament, the neg block was capitalism and exclude poverty counterplan- 2nr goes for exclude poverty. Second debate at tournament, cap. Third debate, Nietzsche. Fourth debate, have the court of appeals anticipatorily overrule the supreme court decision, with a "moment of rupture" cls net benefit. And finally, in doubles and for a bid to the TOC, exclude the part of the preamble to the plan that advocates ethics and replace it with "doing good," with a critique of ethics net benefit (I agree with one other judge that aff wins cp not functionally different from plan, perm do cp). Guess that's what i get for thinking realism isn't an answer to every critique and that what we say in debate really matters!

Don't get me wrong, I do like listening to critiques. A couple of the teams I watched were very good at what they went for. I just like listening to a disad and cp thats not agent cp and politics, and get tired of military heg affs.

The results from both tournaments, as well as a link to the case list, are provided at

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