We have many standards for evaluating the health of a debate program: Competitive success, percentage of new members, percentage of retention of second year debaters, amounts of minority and women participants, diversity of majors and courses of study, and the list goes on. Most debate clubs, if wise, are looking at these numbers occasionally to gage the health of their debating society.
Image via Wikipedia
Do we have such metrics for our tournaments?
It seems that one of the only ways we have to evaluate the health of a tournament is by popularity, or "everyone says" that the tournament is good. This is a hermeneutic circle - the tournament is good because everyone agrees it was good last year, etc. Or worse, name recognition.
There are some better metrics you might argue - the quality of the CA, the diversity and quality of the DCAs, etc. But how do we know these people are good? Again, it has the risk of becoming another hermeneutic circle - the good debater is a good CA because she was a good debater.
Perhaps one metric, due to the cheapness and availability of digital video, is having a look at the quality of the final round. I think this metric is incomplete, but offers a way of getting a bearing at least on how the tournament is doing.
This weekend is the annual University of Massachusetts, Amherst tournament, and I think it might be a good candidate for trying this out. Here is a link to the final round from last year's tournament.
<p>UMass Amherst Final 2009 - Banning embedded journalists from Steve Llano on Vimeo.</p>