The limiting factor

So on Saturday we had the annual Hall of Fame tournament, a lovely time when we can pat one of ourselves on the back. That’s rare enough in our activity except when done for the wrong reasons. It’s easy enough for coach recognition to spin out of hand and before you know it, you’re running the Emory tournament. However, we recognized two people who served and coached well. Joyce in particular is a singularly quiet and non self promoting individual. So I don’t feel bad for that.

What is interesting about this weekend’s tournament is that we tried a new format. Instead of the usual 3 rounds plus a final and leave by 6 that we aim for, we did 4 rounds, no final, and left by 4. It was a blessedly short day, we arrived home when the sunlight still shone, and I didn’t have that feeling of raw discomfort that comes of spending too much time in a high school.

Of course, the kids hated it. They didn’t have terribly good justifications for hating it, besides “I want finals!!!!” but hate it they did, so it’s unlikely to survive this brief experiment of two tournaments. That’s a shame. I’ve come to realize, through the context of late league discussions, that we’re really running on a tripod here. The essential goal of the activity is student’s education. But two essential ingredients, money and adult time, are sometimes overlooked.

When we have a league discussion about various issues, inevitably it turns into a contest of whose position benefits the students best. I don’t agree with that calculus; for the activity to survive the burden of fund raising cannot be crushing, nor can the time spent on the part of coaches and tournament staff (who are virtually always volunteers) cannot be overwhelming.

In the MFL, that threshold is being reached. Our tournaments are within striking distance of being as quick as we can run them; we can save probably another 45 minutes, but for the most part they’re as efficient as they can be. However, they still run very long, meaning I cannot feasibly do much else from Friday night when I go to bed early, until Saturday noontime when I wake in recovery. They’re also at the edge of viability, with a whopping 120 trophies required at minimum to even hold an event. Some would suggest we determine the educational merit first and then do whatever it takes in the realms of money and time to make the educationally optimal path happen. I don’t agree; I think if you wait to talk about reality, you’re going to shove yourself out of business rather quickly.

What’s ironic was someone suggested we raise tournament fees in order to hold events that accommodate working class students.

At any rate, I may be reaching an endpoint. I cannot continue to put this level of dedication into a single activity; my friendships out of forensics are suffering, I haven’t had a prospect of a relationship in a year, and so on: and this tale of a personal life in tatters is not terribly unusual in the world of forensics coaches. With such a significant personal tax, and without the kind of expected support of speech programs in Massachusetts that say, Texas enjoys, all this extra effort comes out of the coaches. Little surprise then, that despite interest among kids and interest among parents, willing coaches are the limiting factor of growth of the MFL.

So we’ll keep having tournaments, and we’ll have finals, and we’ll leave at 6 instead of 4. And a few more people will be unwilling to coach, unwilling to enter this activity, unwilling or unable to run for the state Board. It will remain an activity among the few obsessed, who are willing to pull out all stops if it will help an extra ten or twenty students compete and learn. I understand the impulse, but it more than anything has lead me to search for a better balance. If I can’t find a way to jigsaw personal life with league life, league life will go.

Is this all there is?

So yeah, I started a site here. I’m not really intending it to be a blog, because I know I am not reliable enough to post new original things here every day. I’ll forget and be sporadic, or I’ll fall into a pattern where I post unoriginal things here every day. I’m going to aim for the former pattern. In the age of RSS feeds, that’s useful enough.

I’ve managed to dump all the random poetry that I had up on the old drupal powered site. I have to say, I rather like WordPress; hacking it around was pleasantly simple, everything codewise is laid out in a very sensible manner. The best programs and systems don’t need documentation; you simply start using them and find you understand them already. Bad systems rebuff efforts to easily understand them; in good systems you’re encouraged to learn and tinker more.

As for the point of this whole thing, I don’t truly know. I’m going to naturally talk some about forensics, though I cannot hope to take Jim Menick’s august mantle of Dean of the Coach Bloggers. All two of them. Or us, I suppose.

But I also do other things, and need to find time for them more. I will probably talk LOPSA some here and there, the family certain is always worth a trip, and then the wide world of politics never lacks for bloggers, but one more can’t really harm anything?

I suppose one more can, with a loon like me behind it.

But more than anything, I don’t truly believe anything until I write it down. Putting it out here like this, makes it more real for me. It brings clarity, just as debate should. It hopefully will force me to organize the stupid ideas that come to me at odd moments, usually when I’m driving and can’t write anything down. Sometimes you write ideas down and they fall together clear; other times you take a look and say “eeugh. No.”

Expect that last one a lot.