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No Such Thing As Regional Styles

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  • No Such Thing As Regional Styles

    Style. What separates programs from one another, even individuals from one another. The manner in which one speaks, tone, speed, volume, gestures all of it. We’ve characterized classified and labeled entire programs even regions into traits to minimize the uncertain nature of this activity.


    The truth is however, is that so called styles change as time goes on, they change within programs, and there is little evidence to attribute styles to entire regions. Labels such as Southern Charm or West Coast Flashiness immediately become dispelled upon the realization that the competitors who make up these teams and institutions are not inherently from those regions themselves. Whatever manners of speaking or personalities individuals bring to a team become but another piece to that team’s stained glass. This is especially so in student run programs where instruction and creativity do not all come from a few expressive minds. We’ve seen in the last 2 final rounds 2 teams from the same program persuade with different rhetoric, convey in unique modes of speaking, and yes, compete with different “styles.”


    We see flashiness arise in all parts of our country, and aggressiveness dominate at tournaments from East to West. There is no mistaking that our 2018 Midwestern Champions embodied aggression and our 2016 East Coast Champions epitomized flashiness. Similarly there is little evidence to indicate that judging pools too discriminate by style insofar the location where the round is taking place. There is no better illustration of this than our 2017 Southern Champions who dominated in the West yet suffered an overwhelming defeat in the South only the year before. I use final rounds as primary examples for they are the only ones we can, as a community, discuss together.


    The truth is, Mock Trial is unpredictable. We are anxious creatures trying to learn as much as we can about our opponents to predict their every move. To the extent that we find comfort in patterns that may arise, in the end it is uncertainty that makes Mock Trial truly thrilling.
    Last edited by Hermes Trismegistus; August 25th, 2018, 05:57 AM.

  • #2
    this is interesting, but i think you vastly overstate the difference in virginia's performance between 2016 and 2017, virginia had the second best record across all 48 teams in greenville and lost the final round, and in los angeles, they tied for the best record across all 48 teams and won the final round--that, along with their high placement in minneapolis, speaks (in my opinion) more to their ability to play well anywhere than to a lack of regional differences

    because take yale a, essentially the same team between 2017 and 2018, but with vastly different results in los angeles versus minneapolis--i'm sure many factors went into that (such as the case itself) but i'm hesitant to conclude that judging preferences played zero role in the difference

    in the end though, i think this question about the lack of regional styles is super hard to probe because there are very few cases where the same team (people, not just the school) attends more than one nct together, and you're right that the uncertainty adds a certain thrill to the game

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DrunkLikeDawson View Post
      this is interesting, but i think you vastly overstate the difference in virginia's performance between 2016 and 2017, virginia had the second best record across all 48 teams in greenville and lost the final round, and in los angeles, they tied for the best record across all 48 teams and won the final round--that, along with their high placement in minneapolis, speaks (in my opinion) more to their ability to play well anywhere than to a lack of regional differences
      Continuing the Virginia example, another huge factor between the two final rounds was the Yale team they were playing. In 2016, it was almost the exact same Yale team from the 2015, and the only change was adding Patrick Doolittle (a perfect ranked All American). But in 2017, they played an incredibly young team with a comparatively very small amount of experience - especially when Virginia essentially ran back the same team from the year before. And I think using Virginia to prove that Southern teams don't necessarily play well in the South is a little disingenuous, because they play a very different style than the stereotypically Southern team.

      I think going so far to say there's no such thing as Regional styles is too much and incorrect, but I do think that the effect of them is relatively minor compared to a bunch of other factors. There are a lot of reasons why a team may or may not do well, and when Yale A this year is the only major example (and I think there are a bunch of reasons why that result might've happened) it's tough for me to put a bunch of stock in the regional preference argument.

      And just to throw in a counterpoint here - it's true that mock trial is unpredictable. That keeps it interesting. But there are huge aspects of it that are predictable as well. Nick Ramos winning Trial by Combat was predictable. Dan Stern's Yale team winning in 2016 was predictable. Virginia winning in 2017 was predictable. Every year, it's predictable to say that Yale, NYU, Virginia, Miami, Georgia Tech, and other teams like that are going to finish top 10.

      And when those things that you think are easily predictable *do not* come true, it's natural to ask why. When an anomaly like Yale going 2-8-2 happens, it's natural to ask why. You can't say they weren't a good team (they made the final in LA). You can't say they had an absolutely awful draw (it wasn't easy, but they played UCLA, Cornell, Patrick Henry College, and Wheaton). You can't argue getting the new case screwed them up (if there's any team in the country who clearly has figured out how to succeed with a new Nationals case, it's Yale). And when you get past those things, if it wasn't their prep, their caliber, or their opponent's caliber, then your options are either (1) something psychological that threw them off for their rounds - which no one here is able to speak about or (2) it was something about where they were competing and who the judges were.

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      • #4
        It seems that OP’s point has been missed. He wasn’t making a talent argument as he was making a style argument. Talent is predictable. Style is not. As for the correlation that may exist between style and talent, that’s another discussion completely. Nonetheless, we have seen and will continue to see teams deviate from their stereotypical regional stylistic preferences. To what degree and by how much, that is unpredictable.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ScoobyDoo403 View Post
          It seems that OP’s point has been missed. He wasn’t making a talent argument as he was making a style argument. Talent is predictable. Style is not. As for the correlation that may exist between style and talent, that’s another discussion completely. Nonetheless, we have seen and will continue to see teams deviate from their stereotypical regional stylistic preferences. To what degree and by how much, that is unpredictable.
          It's fair to say there are some exceptions to the stereotypes. But I think jumping from that to "therefore style is too unpredictable to really affect outcomes" is too big of a leap to make without more evidence. Sure, Miami is an exception to the Midwestern stereotype. Are there others? I certainly can't think of any. And I think the Northeast stereotype is showy and aggressive, which I think the 2016 Yale team personified.

          I think we as a community sometimes fall into the trap of over analyzing certain phenomena about the top teams in AMTA, and then asserting that any trends present there will also carry over through the rest of the community (which comprises the large majority of AMTA). Saying that Miami or Virginia buck their regional stereotypes is true, but we can't say that extends over every team or every region without a lot more data than just analyzing the 3 most recent final rounds. Just like I don't think we can say that because Yale A went 2-8-2, that Midwestern judges just don't like the East Coast style on the whole. But we can look at those specific cases, try to isolate the cause, and then see if that cause is a nationwide thing or a one time anomaly through the collection of more data.

          Frankly, using the top 3 ranked teams in the country and the last 3 national champions to try to demonstrate that regional style preferences don't exist anywhere on any level of mock trial just isn't enough. That's my point.

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          • #6
            Sure, Miami is an exception to the Midwestern stereotype. Are there others? I certainly can't think of any.
            Chicago (aggressive demeanor), Michigan and Indiana (not that distinguishable in demeanor from typical Northeast/West Coast teams) just to name a few top ones.

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            • #7
              I think an obvious point (which has been made in long posts so I'll distill it) about both Yale 2016 and Virginia 2017 is this: if you take a team full of juniors and seniors who have already been in at least one final round, the odds of you winning go up exponentially. Nobody should've been surprised that Yale dominated the Greenville final round, or that Virginia dominated the Los Angeles final round. Though it does make it a little more surprising that Yale A struggled in Minneapolis despite having a large number of returning competitors from 2017, and a little more surprising that Virginia did quite as well as it did in in Minneapolis, since it lost a large chunk of its team from both 2016 and 2017.

              But, overall, the key point is this: if you have a team with a lot of juniors and seniors who have final round experience, things will probably go your way.

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              • #8
                Suppose we accept as true that teams, even programs, compete similarly by region. From where do these stylistic similarities arise? Cultural differences? Regional “bubbles” of teams that only face each other and hence adopt each other’s style? If the latter is the case, would stylistic similarities be most prominent in lower tier teams that never get past ORCS? Or is it other factors altogether that account for these trends (presupposing that they exist)?

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                • #9
                  if op was saying that there are no regional styles wrt teams, i would tend to agree moreso than if op were talking about judges

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by DrunkLikeDawson View Post
                    if op was saying that there are no regional styles wrt teams, i would tend to agree moreso than if op were talking about judges
                    I think this is a pretty relevant point to the discussion about how regional styles may develop. For programs with coaches, the coaches tend to overwhelmingly be from the same general geographic area that the school is in. And I think a large majority of active mock coaches tend to be practicing attorneys in that region. So these coaches know what kind of advocacy is most effective for actual law in that region (per the point DrunkLikeDawson made about judges but not teams having regional styles) so those coaches might then teach their students to advocate in that particular way. To a lesser degree I think this also may apply for student-run programs, because upperclassmen will teach younger members how they think it's best to advocate.

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