Destination Debating

D. T. Fleming Beach Park, Kapalua, Maui, Hawai...
D. T. Fleming Beach Park, Kapalua, Maui, Hawaii, US. Best beach of US scored in 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
There really shouldn't be a forced choice. One should get married however one wishes. Some people like to elope and run down to the courthouse. Some imagine a small ceremony with just close friends. And some imagine flying everyone to Maui for a week of partying on the beach. People get to choose how they would like to perform this important life moment. There's nothing wrong with a destination wedding, so long as you can afford it and you actually want to do it.

But when it comes to hosting the World Championships, we see little variety. It seems that in order to host the WUDC, one needs to present a package that looks like a destination wedding. What 5 star hotel will host us? How many open bar parties will occur? How great will the meals be? All of these questions seem just as important as the list of superstar international debate champions that will appear as adjudicators at the tournament.

Recent, and I must say amazing, World Championships have set the bar high. But I'm afraid that the high bar is being misinterpreted as the price of entry. WUDC still lacks a 2014 host, and I think the reason why is the idea that for a World Championship to be good, it must be Destination Debating. Just in the past week or so a bid has emerged for 2014, much to the relief of everyone who likes to plan way ahead, and Council.

Destination Debating is fine. I have no problem with having a fancy tournament once in a while. I also think that if you are paying to travel halfway around the world to debate, you should get some amenities that reflect the amount of money you paid to participate. But I think that the attitude among those who might like to host worlds is that if they can't provide an amazing, over the top experience with nightly DJs, fireworks, and alcohol that flows like wine, they should not bid. But I think that if you love debate, and really want to make a commitment of this level, what's wrong with going down to city hall? What about a stripped down World Championship?

If it was up against a WUDC bid that even hinted at some exotic features, I'm certain it would lose in the vote. But perhaps it would start the process of lowering the bar for those who are in love with debate and considering taking the plunge.

What about a stripped-down Worlds (read: normal competition)? Would it effect the quality of the tournament for you? If Worlds were even half the quality of recent Destination Debating style championships, would this deter the best debaters from attending? My answer to these questions is clear - and it might help us return to the important elements of such a competition: Finding the best debaters in the world, working on that metric, and giving others an inspirational model of speaking to emulate and aspire to reach.
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