George Mason

So we had a great time, our happy band of Screaming Jews (L’CHAIM!!!) at the George Mason tournament this weekend. The tournament ran behind and confusedly, in the way of tournaments that have outgrown their host site and a reasonable schedule. The judging was a bit…interesting, and the breaks were difficult, but our kids did OK anyway. I was exhausted by the schedule — three straight days of waking up at 6:30, going to bed at 11 or so, on top of that vaguely tired sense one always gets at tournaments, that comes of ten straight hours of uncomfortable furniture and too much ambient noise. But at the same time, we had fun, laughed a lot, won a lot. It’s a good campus for a tournament, and there were a lot of people there, and the food spreads were enough to make a Yalie weep.

We also managed to completely smash three trophies; we de-winged a pair of eagles and one smiling George Mason head is now in several pieces due to some grand klutzitude. We’re speechies, not athletes; who expects us to be coordinated? I told the kids that it’s simply a demonstration that at Newton South, it’s about the education not the trophies.

Who gives porcelain speech trophies anyway? At a travel tournament, even? Crazy.

So, we also cleaned house; everyone finaled, we won both round robins, and 1st in HI, 6th in Prose, 3rd in Extemp, and three semifinalist spots. People were looking at us like I should be in coaching nirvana. Really I was much happier that evening laughing and carousing at a stupid PF Chang’s with the kids.

And now as I recover another MFL controversy flairs up over details. Already I can tell that people care too much about the particular point afoot to have a calm rational discussion about it, and we’ll end up watering down the original intent through a series of late compromises. So far, that’s one of my flaws in leading this league; I am generally apathetic to the nuts and bolts of tournaments and rules and leagues, and so I expect others to be as well; and when someone works themselves into tears as to whether we should offer radio, I never see it coming. When we have a virtual shouting match that includes willful misunderstandings and whisper campaigns and agendas, well, it’s enough to again make me question what good, if any, I’m doing this league. Or doing myself, for that matter.

It’s one of the reasons I find myself ever more comfortable in my original home of debate, not speech; debaters don’t mess with rules and procedures nearly as much, and at least the controversies about kritiks and such are within the context of the activity. Sure, the process of handing out TOC bids is probably one of the most corrupt and backhanded imaginable, but for a local shlub like me, that’s easily ignored.

I need to find a hobby that is not full of adults obsessed with the competitive success of children. I care if my kids come out smarter, and am happy if they win. Most others in this line care if their kids win, and are happy if they come out smarter. That’s human nature, I suppose, when placed in a competition: you want foremost to win it. I have the advantage that this isn’t my job, my life, or my primary focus; external sources of ego help out a lot. But that doesn’t make it any more excusable for those wrapped up in it.