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Author Topic: Let the higher seed choose the side?  (Read 3599 times)
Jr. Member
Posts: 78

« on: April 06, 2011, 01:43:33 AM »

In the NBA playoffs, the higher seed earns home court advantage, which means that if the series takes 7 games, the higher seed will play four games at home including the decisive final game. The payoff for regular season success isn't just an easier draw, but a slight additional side advantage.

Question -- Is winning the flip debate's equivalent of home court? Debate teams have an even number of Aff and Neg debates during the prelims. NBA teams have an even number of away/home games during the regular season. You've gotta be good at both sides to be good in either activity and set yourself up well in elimination rounds.

Proposal -- what if tournaments let the higher seed choose the side instead of flip for sides? I sketched out a few arguments I imagine each side might make. 

Two disclaimers --

a. I got to thinking about this topic because of all the talk of basketball and seeding in the media recently, not any particular debate.

b. I have no idea which side is right but lean towards the SQ/flip for sides.

Higher seed should choose

1. It rewards performance instead of chance. During the NDT, the top seeds earn the added benefit of a doubles round off to store up energy for Monday. Similarly, this proposal rewards a team with an exceptional prelim performance with the right to control a greater part of their elim destiny. There's more justice in that then a coin flip.

2. It speeds up elims. Defined roles make it clear what each team should do, and help pressure them to do it promptly. Teams have to hurry up and decide a side and give the other team time to prep. Sunday doubles rounds turn around *very* quickly. Forcing the higher seed to make a quick decision gives the lower seeded team extra time to prepare.

3. It rewards more well balanced teams. If a team wants to control its side throughout the elims, it has to be shutdown on both sides in the prelims. Teams that are weak on one side will lose their chance to preclude that side against a more deserving higher seed.

4. It adds another element to strategy. For instance, if we're the 12th seed - we can guess which way we'd flip against 21 in the doubles, and guess which way five would flip against us if all played out accordingly in the doubles. Teams could surprise others with their side choice or underdogs could undo the best laid plans.

5. It is more sustainable. People who want to sleep can do so with some knowledge of what the coming day will yield. People who want to do extra work can work on fewer issues, knowing that research is immediately valuable. A more narrow work load is a more meaningful, targeted work load.

Flip for sides

1. Why reward the higher seeds? Presumably, the higher seeds have already won more debates and earned higher speaks. If the higher seed is such a balanced team they deserve to be tested, not coddled.

2. What to do about "stealing" a seed? If the goal is to reward prelim performance, then a 32 seed that pulls the upset over #1 is still doomed to their opponent's flip even if they've taken over the #1 seed's room.

3. Great debaters deserve their shot. If a team already struggles to compete because of weakness on a particular side, why straddle them with additional weights? Presumably, they'll lose a flip at some point and deserve the chance to win a flip and improve their odds.

4. What's so bad about chance? The NCAA men's basketball tournament final shouldn't convince everyone that a final of (relative) underdogs is undesirable. Also, 'chance' isn't really so random in this circumstance; a big upset is an earned achievement.

5. It doesn't make things move faster -- people will still be slow and the higher seed will just maximize their advantage by taking their time to make a decision. This just means more decisions by committee since no one will want to step on their partner's toes and will be careful to consult.
Posts: 23

« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2011, 02:43:28 AM »

It seems like 'home court' would just create new problems for tournament efficiency. There's strategy in the current format. Unbalanced teams already suffer from the 'unbalanced DA.' And, there's always a reason to stay awake before elims.

I also think the NBA might prefer neutral locations if money were not a factor (tradition probably plays a role now too).

However, I WOULD fully support this if the higher seed could choose aff/neg OR speak first/second--on the condition that we call elim debates "Ted Turner Single Elimination Rounds" and refer to the 1NC as "the neg case."
Full Member
Posts: 167

« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2011, 09:20:01 AM »

Tab room flips/side equalization formats seem to nullify most of the 'offense' for letting higher seeds flip: accesses all of the predictability/sleep arguments and has the advantage of guaranteeing balance by forcing teams to debate both sides of the question in order to advance deep in elims.  I would definitely be more in favor of greater use of side equalization than I would letting high seeds pick the side.  Getting on top of the bracket is usually its own reward, at least through the first two elims (9 times out of 10 anyway, or 7 times out of 10 this last season it seemed).

What about other seeding formats?  What would you think about reseeding after every elimination as a way to 'reward' top performers?  Here the metaphor wouldn't be NBA/NCAA but rather NHL playoffs.  Definitely protects teams with a good preliminary performance while forcing teams with a low seed to have more difficult debates for the rest of the elims.  Certainly links to the preparation disad because you can no longer predictably isolate where the path to finals goes (at least not with the certainty of an NCAA bracket format).

Just kicking ideas around; I like the status quo for the most part.  I also think its fun to think about what sport is the most appropriate metaphor for debate.  The more I think about it, none of them are.  And Kearney, when are you going to get that pro-am 'Stocks/Minor repair only' debate league off the ground?  Cuz I am down.
Full Member
Posts: 157

« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2011, 11:23:04 AM »

on a related note, tournaments that currently employ side equalization should switch to "flip equalization." instead of the tab room coin flip determining sides (Aff or Neg), it would determine which team gets to choose their side. same set-up, but instead of Wake announcing "Odds Seeds AFF" before the doubles, they would announce "Odd Seeds Choice."

it maintains the purpose of side equalization (teams in elims have to be able to win on both sides, aff and neg) BUT has the added advantage of allowing for strategic side selection (whether to be Aff or Neg depends on the opponent and panel as much as anything else).

the current system wrongly assumes that being AFF or NEG means the same thing to every team in every situation. it doesn't, and Flip Equalization accounts for that fact.
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