The Debate Tournament That Went On Forever
It began innocently enough. Oh, sure we had to be at the school in time for the bus’s departure at 6:15 am but that just meant we’d get home earlier, right?
Wrong. More than twelve hours later, half the school’s competitors are waiting on the bus with a teacher, the judge and myself.
We wait. And wait. And wait some more. Evidently some students decided, all on their own, that they should attend what’s known as a “break round.” Since I’m new to this and not up on the jargon, I have no idea what this means. All I know is their caprice is keeping me from a delicious meal at my favorite Indian restaurant with my husband who has been thousands of miles away for the week.
Have I mentioned that my daughter, the debater, is sick and therefore not even competing in this tournament? No? Well, vomiting first thing this morning didn’t bode well for a forty-five minute bus ride followed by four rounds of competition interspersed with junk food. She wisely chose to stay home. Alas, that was not an option for me. Competitors are easy to replace in the schedule. Judges are not.
That left me to fulfill my parental duty on my own. Which was fine. Really. I didn’t mind. Earlier that week I had convinced her coach to give me some training and I was eager to test my new, albeit limited, knowledge.
Receiving a bye in the first round allowed me to enjoy a donut and coffee in the judge’s room before easing into the day. When my name was announced for the second round, I headed out to evaluate my first victims’—whoops—competitors’ skills. Luckily, that round’s winner was obvious, even to my less-than-expert adjudication qualifications.
The next round was tougher from the start. The first debater rattled off his constructive speech faster than the speed of sound. Well, not literally because I could hear his words; I just couldn’t understand them. It was like trying to understand the Spanish of Mexico based on six months of “Mi nombre es Kym.”
Perhaps the sight of my eyes glazing over clued him in. He slowed his pace for the rest of the round and won handily.
Back in the judge’s lounge, I decided the experience is a lot like air travel. Periods of intense focus mixed with extended episodes of boredom. A book is handy. Alas, I finished mine after the last round.
A magazine is useful too. Too bad I read so quickly that mine was now recycling fodder. Thank God for my little computer.
Now, a half-hour later, the bus is heading home. Thankfully the girls who hoped to hi-jack it to a Burger King were over-ridden by the bus driver’s adherence to “the sheet.”
“If it’s not on ‘the sheet,’ she said, “We don’t stop.” Sometimes I really like people who play by the rules. Tonight I’m particularly grateful to be headed home and closer to my chicken korma and papadums.
Next time, I’m bringing two books. No, make that three. I’ve heard these tournaments can go until ten-thirty.
Maybe I should pack my slippers and a blanket.