Sunday, March 22, 2009

Excelence: the pursuit

I've been thinking about excellence.

Mostly, this thought is brought on by my decision to run that particular negative case in finals. My question is, does pursuing excellence mean doing everything you can (ethically) to win? Or does it mean doing your best. I made a conscious decision to use that case, even though I knew it would mean that I would lose. Then, I debated as hard as I could.

The thing is, the only measuring stick that the league has for excellence is competition, and I don't care about competition. I don't know if it's right attitude, or just big-headed but I don't really care about winning. I might just be a jerk who's whole thought process is "I don't need to win in order to validate myself." or I might be a... somebody... who's whole thought process is "I don't need to win in order to validate myself."

But if winning is the measure (at least the public measure) of excellence, than what I did was not the pursuit of excellence. Anybody who knew me knew that I was basically throwing the round. I was having fun (I think everybody was) but I wasn't trying to win. Also, I know I could have debated better. If I had used a regular case, I probably could have won. CASC! I really think that it is true, sorry if it sounds like self-complementation. I could have done better if I had used a regular case. I couldn't have done better with the case I had... that I know of, I was trying as hard as I could anyway. But does that mean that I was pursuing excelence.

This sucks. I'm sitting here writing a blog post to phsychoanalyze myself. How selfish is that? Completely, self focused, 100%.

Okay, how did I affect others?

Well, Isaac Kim says I'm his new hero, but I don' t want to be a hero because I'm a goofball. Plus, now if Isaac does LD he might try to emulate me which is not what this league needs.

The community judges have now gone away thinking that the NCFCA is training up teenagers to question human existance. That might be true, and it might be a good thing, but it still isn't a good way to reflect the light of Christ.

Nicole might feel that I cheated her out of a well deserved victory, that I made her accomplishment hollow by allowing myself to be defeated.

I don't know. It's a lot easier to know what I think about this than what other people do, and even then, I'm having trouble figuring out what I think. I think... I think I probably shouldn't have done what I did. I essentially said that the result of the round wasn't important, and that the judges time wasn't important (if the result isn't important, why have judges? If there's no reason to have judges, I'm wasting their time) I probably shouldn't be competing if I don't care about competition.

EDIT: A lot more thought later. I think that what I did was a self-centered, attention seeking thing to do. That it was disrespectful, that it was not a proper use of the talents God has given me, and that all it did was draw attention to me - away from God.


  1. Hm.

    I feel bad that none of that even crossed my mind until my mom mentioned it when we were talking about the round in the car. Before the round I was thinking 1) the existence case would throw Nicole off her groove, and unsettling her is the key to defeating her, 2) it would make for a far better round (and a better chance of you winning) than the resolution kritik - because applications are Nicole's speciality, 3) it would highlight for the judges the very nature of debate theory. During the round I thought the case was well argued, with the perfect blend of humor and seriousness. After the round, I was certain you won on issues outside of the "existence burden of proof" argument, and I was impressed that you had the guts to run a silly case in a serious way in a serious setting.

    And I still think all of that. But I can see now how it skirted the line of what was (appropriate? upstanding? respectable?) acceptable. It makes me sad that competition can't be about winning and about challenging ourselves at the same time. It makes me even more sad that the round I so enjoyed watching could have made people mad. And it makes me question doing TP at SePA.

    Hindsight is 20/20, I guess?

  2. Well Micah...I think you're was selfish, and I admire your honesty about it. And also it was disrespectful to the judges in some sense, which reminds me of why (i) ran the case, because I wanted to have fun...and ignored the other debater and the judges time...we were both selfish.

    About excellence, I think that we need to work as hard as we can in this competition, it is how it works...competition (just like capitalism) is based on the idea that people want to "win" if they don't, it sort of throws a wrench into the wheel. Hum...

  3. Silence is agreement, they say. Which would mean I didn't have to comment to say I agree with you, but I still am.

    But while I think it was wrong to run the case in finals, it's extremely hard for me to weigh all the factors. If the point of debate is to learn and enjoy arguing, then it was acceptable.

    And I feel awful that I didn't think of any consequences when you asked me if you should run it, because I was too lazy to think through what the wise choice would be. Fun again triumphed over maturity. =/