Author Topic: Number of judges  (Read 3167 times)


  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 74
Number of judges
« on: October 04, 2011, 12:12:36 AM »
First time poster, here.  Feel free to relocate this thread if it is better placed elsewhere.

I see that there are just three judges for the final round, even though the tournament must have used over eighty.  That strikes me as a small panel for a tournament of this stature.  In early 1972, I was a visitor at Dartmouth's National Invitational, and they assigned seven judges to each and every one of the octo-final rounds.  In fact, they accidentally assigned eight judges to one of them.  I remember that at the start of the round, the 1AC debater from Michigan attempted to count the judges and after two unsuccessful attempts, he just shrugged and said something like, "Huh?  I guess I have trouble with big numbers."

Then, during the 1NC, someone from the administrative office slinked into the room and was scootching from one judge to another and at the conclusion of that speech dragged one of them out the door, saying, "We wouldn't want a 4-4 tie here!"

I re-enrolled in college in 1979, and in the spring of 1980, drove myself to the Harvard Tournament to watch the elimination rounds, and not only did the final round have just three judges, one of them was first-year Harvard coach Dallas Perkins, which was an awkward situation since his alma mater was one of the teams in the finals, and if I recall correctly, one of the other two judges was young and relatively inexperienced.  I was struck by the judging shortage but thought it might have simply been an aberration caused by the fact that this was a mid-week, evening round and most judges had already hit the road for Dartmouth, whose tournament was to begin the next morning.  Since then, I have observed that three judge panels have become the norm rather than the exception..

Was there something precluding assembling a larger judging panel for the finals of this tournament?
« Last Edit: October 04, 2011, 07:18:31 AM by CouldaBeenaContenda »
Dover (New Hampshire) High School debate team, 1967-1970
Dover High School Debate Coach, 1970-1971
University of New Hampshire debate team, 1970 (when we still spoke like human beings)
University of New Hampshire debate team, 1980-1981 (and when we didn't)
UNH assistant debate coach, 1980-1981


  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 148
Re: Number of judges
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2011, 08:18:57 AM »
The fact that the final round did not begin until 11:00 p.m. on a Monday night?

kelly young

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 252
    • Wayne State Graduate Programs
Re: Number of judges
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2011, 08:58:06 AM »
There's likely several reasons for the change. As Scott suggests in his typical snarky fashion, tournaments take longer to complete now, making final rounds occur later and later and there's just not that many judges around.

Also, I believe the necessity for 5-7 judge panels was that judges were randomly selected and a larger panel helped cancel out some of the ideological biases and other problems with judges. Today, we have highly technical computer programs and judge preference systems that eliminate the need to have so many judges.

The only place that we maintain this tradition is at the NDT. Although it is probably more tradition than necessity.

American Forensic Association Vice President,
Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Communication
Wayne State University
kelly.young [at]