The Trudge Report

Tuesday, 18 May 2004 — 10:07am | Debate

This comes a little late, but punctuality is a secondary concern when appraising something on the magnitude of this past weekend’s major Nick-occupying event, that being the University of Waterloo’s Summer Tournament. Known as the Debate Death Trudge, the concept behind the Waterloo tournament is this: begin debating on Saturday morning, rinse and repeat until Sunday morning. This time around it consisted of no less than fifteen round-robin debates in mercifully shortened Canadian Parliamentary times (5-6-6-8-3), the fifteenth round a hidden quarterfinal, followed by a breakfast banquet at Mel’s Diner (an offshoot of the same restaurant that launched George Lucas’ career) and a break to semi-finals.

There were other assorted twists, such as matchups for “specific knowledge rounds” where arguments predicated on factual expertise, conventionally disallowed out of fairness, are permitted concerning topics to which both teams consent. Where it gets really interesting is when said consent does not imply equal parity of knowledge, leading to situations like Round 6, where a certain Flames-jersey-wearing Government team argued that Harry Potter let Cedric Diggory take the Triwizard Cup, only to discover that the Opposition had never read The Goblet of Fire, let alone memorized it to the point where the structure of the Ministry of Magic and the legal complications of the Bartemius Crouch inquisitions are small beans of the Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavoured variety. The Opposition team of “Greg Allen’s Older Sister Is Hot A” (Crossman/Kotrly) not only won the round by means both inexplicable and totally legitimate, but went on to claim victory over the entire tournament and pick up a Nintendo Entertainment System apiece.

The very notion of debaters staying up and doing rounds in the wee hours of the morning produces amusing results. At no other tournament can one profess to witness the enormity and depth of silliness characteristic of Waterloo DDT, particularly once it heads into the double-digits. By then, adjudicators are just as fatigued, and oh, do they ever respond accordingly. It still has to be determined if they were scoring by attempted content or just sheer entertainment value, but I imagine the former is difficult when people are crossing the floor midway, going off on wild tangents about their parents and Bob Dylan being sell-outs while on the subject of Scrabble, drawing diagrams of scandalous polygonal relationships in multiple dimensions, reading Economist articles verbatim, laughing for half a speech or justifying political mergers by quoting Dylan Thomas.

Everything was tackled, nothing was sacred, and by the end of it all, the only real survivor was the enigmatic Carl, who somehow remained a good guy – despite being sent to Abu Ghraib prison and given the standard treatment. But don’t take my word for it – see what everybody else got out of it.

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