I had a sure sign today that I have too many responsibilities in forensics. The Nassau Inn emailed me asking me after the standard details for the Princeton tournament; when were the tournament dates, how many rooms in the block, etc. These are all issues that I do provide advice on for any of my tournaments.
The trouble is, Princeton is not my tournament. They did ask me last year, but I had to say no, because I was already bringing kids to GMU. Then, at Columbia, Admiral Menick tries to talk me into adding Princeton, mostly because he likes the restaurants there. And now I’m running the tournament by acclamation of the bloody hotels; how they knew who I am is beyond me. I’m not sure exactly how I got appointed the chairman of the northeastern collective tab room. I suppose, in a volunteer-driven world, you just need to start doing a job, and sooner or later it acquires official weight.
But thankfully, it’s not much of a problem to foist that one off on actual Princetonians. The summer is a nice time; I don’t do much tournament management, apart from calming down an occasional Yalish panic attack. The Yalies sometimes fail to understand that the likelihood no one is coming to their tournament is lessened with every immediately sold out hotel block we acquire. But anyway, during the summer, I actually get to build curriculum for my camp, which then also informs the curriculum for the coming year at South. I’m also chairing the NCFL Extemp committee, trying to tackle issues there about moving the questions themselves forward, along with the Computers in Prep Question. I still think computers in prep is a huge Pandora’s box, but for now the power requirements of 210 separate laptops in prep put the idea out of practical reach anyhow. But it’s nice to think sometimes about this actual activity, and the reasons why I do it. I like nicely run tournaments so I run them, but at the end of the day, it’s the coaching that keeps me doing this.
And I try as much as possible not to touch much code, apart from a few weekends here and there when the mood strikes me. I do want to pre-empt the Admiral’s inevitable bitching about how housing requests work in my software, to save my poor bug tracking system from being overwhelmed by his love notes in early November. I’m sure he’ll come up with lots of….suggestions, anyway. But I want to at least make him work for it.
But beyond the summer, I’m also trying to build the tournaments in such a way that I’m not needed. There’s a common method to them, and the only thing I provide is a veto threat that sticks. The average college tournament is a collection of people who want to do the right thing — run a good solid tournament that the kids enjoy and learn from — and others. There’s the Profiteer, who spends a lot of time dreaming up concessions schemes that never pan out; the Lazy, who just wants the thing to go away; the Self Important Twit, who wants titles and recognition for being a marvelous forensics oracle despite not actually contributing to the success of the tournament.
My real role is to be outside of their internal team politics. As such, I can mercilessly crush the bad ideas from the Useless People, and be sure as much as I can that the Good People stick around in the tournament management. I’ve whittled down the other jobs I do as much as I can, and mostly focus on that. After all, if the principle motivations behind a tournament are sound, the rest falls into place with minimal, fact-based guidance. And if I finally do have that much-delayed nervous breakdown, at least then the details won’t all get lost.
The trick will be when I can “run” a tournament according to this regular method without actually going to it. Once I get that right, maybe I’ll run Princeton. However, I also hear tell of a Florida invitational tournament in need of a tabber that weekend, and if that proves true, it’ll be hard to convince me that the first weekend of December shouldn’t be spent in southern Florida. And gosh, the preparation is bound to be so intensive I’ll just have to come down a good week before….I’m easily bribed by beaches.