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  • #16
    I think Districts are not a good idea -- in part on principle, as well as for practical concerns. It's pretty demeaning to new and previously less than successful programs to demand they jump through additional hoops to compete at a competition everyone else gets to compete at. Established programs should have just as many hoops to climb through as new programs -- as we saw that two teams that went to nationals last year fail to advance out of regionals through a direct bid. Furthermore, given the massive distances between these programs, it feels unreasonable to impose a requirement that they travel hundreds of miles to attend what feels like is designed to be a low-stakes and low-quality tournament, just to ask them, on short notice, to turn around and do logistics for regionals only a few weeks later. Those are pretty high barriers to entry for new or historically low-performing programs, which likely have little if any institutional support.

    Preventing new enrollments doesn't seem like it would actually fix the problem. We should always be welcome to new schools trying to enter our world, in such a way that it probably is the right decision to limit the number of teams powerhouse programs can have and grow the number of schools represented. Also, first year teams (according to the team numbers page) accounted for less than 4% of all teams assigned team numbers this year.

    Curbing bid ineligible teams is something I've actually thought is a fantastic idea since coming to the west coast, though I'm not sure it would fix the problem. It definitely strikes me as an issue that more nearly 1 in every 5 bids issued this year was an open bid (37/216) and that roughly 25 teams that could not advance beyond regionals (the C/D/E teams that broke through + Grand Canyon, who didn't accept theirs) competed in rounds that went as far as to eliminate teams that would have gone to the next level of competition if offered the opportunity.

    There's going to have to be a 64 team nationals if we want to make sure we're giving all teams that do well at ORCS the ability to advance to the national tournament. And I think it can be done. In 2016, Furman recruited 5 judges for every round at the nationals they hosted in 2015. I don't think it's particularly unreasonable to ask teams that want to take on the mammoth task of this to recruit fewer judges (a 3-judge panel in a 32-trial round only requires 96, as opposed to Furman's 120), when they often exist in far larger metropolitan areas with many more lawyers than Upstate South Carolina. But a permanent host could be a fantastic plan. It will certainly require that some rounds be performed in classrooms, but I thought Furman was extraordinarily gracious in guaranteeing two rounds inside Greenville's courthouses.

    Re: a three judge panel at ORCS -- I don't think it's necessary. Especially when bad judging hasn't seriously kept teams from advancing in the past. Mock is inherently a subjective activity, and you are going to have to persuade tough crowds in order to win ballots. Two ballot rounds are good enough at most invitationals and regionals. I don't think there's anything that makes them unusable just because the quality of competition at ORCS is *slightly* higher than at regionals, if we're being honest.

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    • #17
      I get the drawbacks with districts, but I feel like the alternative is as Geneva pointed out: no more new teams or 3 team cap... I don't like those solutions and think we need something for our long-term sustainability. I think people are overstating the financial and time problems though. I don't think that they aren't problems, but I think that they are inevitable problems with this activity. I think the financial burden is just swapping a January invitational with this tournament for most teams and shouldn't be that bad. The timing is an issue, but it is one that teams have had to deal with for a while now. Teams compete at ORCS over Spring Break. Some compete at Nationals during their exams, we all make tons of sacrifices for this activity and that is what makes it such a special group. I don't think adding a final week of January tournament would be the straw that breaks the camels back for most programs.

      Finding hosts is the bigger problem in my mind... but I think we can do it. We just need people to step up. I will start things off, Haverford* pledges to host a <20 team district next year if AMTA goes to this system and needs more hosts.

      * = assuming my successors don't override me

      Im glad people are a fan of the first round sorting, I truly don't see any drawbacks to this and hope AMTA invokes it next year!
      Last edited by Adevans; March 18th, 2019, 06:43 PM.

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      • #18
        Out of curiosity, what do we do with districts that would be tiny?

        To try to flesh out some issues with this proposal for sake of discussion, think of the pacific northwest. At Seattle regionals there were 5 teams that earned less than 2.5 wins in 2019: Oregon State B, Washington State A & B, Central Washington, and Idaho. In 2018 it was the same; 5 teams earned less than 2.5 wins from the Seattle regional. So what do we do in this area of the country, with 4/5 teams needing to go to districts? Does AMTA host a districts tournament in the PNW, or try to move that district elsewhere and require those small, struggling PNW teams to fly to California or Colorado? Or do we make small, struggling California or rocky mountain teams fly to the PNW? Or does AMTA grandfather these teams into regionals because the hassle (and prohibitive costs to teams already struggling) can't be overcome in such a spread-out region.

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        • #19
          happygolucky , I think we would try to group as many of them together as we can, but it is a fair critique, the PNW is a problematic area for sure.

          dcphlmock , I think the principle that "everyone should get to compete at regionals" is a little silly in my opinion. Everyone forgets, but before we had ORCS we just had one round of regionals then Golds and Silvers. We have added steps in the past in the form of ORCS, I am just saying we should add one more. Not everyone competes at Nationals, or ORCS, why not with Regionals too? Everyone expresses these as "additional hoops" but most teams go to a competition in January anyway, I don't think that this is some undue burden that is completely unfair for other teams.

          The process of Regionals/ORCS/Nationals right now is a funnel. I simply propose making the funnel a little taller so the change isn't quite as dramatic anymore.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by geneva View Post

            If we're getting radical I suggest: (A) a moratorium on new schools/teams until we work out a new system, and (B) capping existing programs, to let's say 3 teams. We keep talking about a growth problem, with no solid solution in sight. We need to think about slowing that growth until we have the infrastructure to handle it. Yes, students of new schools benefit from competing, but there are plenty of other worthy academic and forensic competitions that an undergrad at a non-AMTA school can participate in that would service them. I'm all for exposing as many students to mock trial as we can, but this is triage. If we get a handle on our growth in future years, the moratorium would be lifted. Suggestion (B) about limiting schools to 3 teams pretty much speaks for itself. We can talk about the great 4 or 5 or 6 team programs whose students would be hurt by this, but again it's triage. If they want to field more than 3 teams and take them around to invitationals and intra-school competitions, the schools can. But, the impetus would be on the school to narrow it down themselves before AMTA competition. These suggestions start shaving down the numbers and make regionals hosting numbers look a little more manageable.
            Re: Suggestion (B) of capping existing programs to three teams, we had 17 D teams and above compete at Regionals this year. I doubt that limiting programs to three teams is going to have much effect. You'd have to limit to even fewer teams for it to have a demonstrable effect.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Return of the Mock View Post

              Re: Suggestion (B) of capping existing programs to three teams, we had 17 D teams and above compete at Regionals this year. I doubt that limiting programs to three teams is going to have much effect. You'd have to limit to even fewer teams for it to have a demonstrable effect.
              Certainly, neither the moratorium or the cap are supposed to be the long term solutions to the problem. As you've quoted, they're about shaving the numbers down and slowing growth so that we don't keep making things worse for ourselves before we've fixed our problem. 17 teams is practically a whole regional. Consider the ~20 new school registrations we get. That would be practically another regional too. And even if we're not getting rid of whole sites, lowering the team numbers by ~5% allows us to relieve some of the strain on the big fields that are at or past capacity.

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              • #22
                Originally posted by geneva View Post

                Certainly, neither the moratorium or the cap are supposed to be the long term solutions to the problem. As you've quoted, they're about shaving the numbers down and slowing growth so that we don't keep making things worse for ourselves before we've fixed our problem. 17 teams is practically a whole regional. Consider the ~20 new school registrations we get. That would be practically another regional too. And even if we're not getting rid of whole sites, lowering the team numbers by ~5% allows us to relieve some of the strain on the big fields that are at or past capacity.
                While that might limit the number of open bids and place less strain on AMTA as a whole it ultimately hurts the bread and butter of AMTA, power house large programs. Not only are they cash cows but they tend to be more willing to host invitationals, regionals, etc. Getting rid of their D teams might trigger some backlash that larger programs are getting hurt while new programs get preferential treatment. Just playing Devils Advocate here. I think a solution where you have a 64 team national championship in a city like Minneapolis/St. Paul or Dallas/Fort Worth. Where you are able to effectively recruit judges while maintaining geographic proximity to bring it all together for a final round of the winner of the two divisions. Imagine a final round at Jerry World. To me this is a much more realistic solution with the lynch pin being hosts in metropolitan areas that have overlap. I think the eventual goal should be a judge recruiting blitz/marketing campaign to get to three judges at ORCS but that doesn't seem realistic currently.

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                • #23
                  Final round with the Dallas Star as the well of the courtroom....make it happen AMTA

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                  • #24
                    Here's an idea of dealing with the concern that a 32 team division brings in too much luck in deciding the winner.

                    We can have 4 divisions of 16 teams. The winning 4 teams after four rounds, then go into the AMTA Final Four. There are plenty of ways you could decide your winner from there, here are a few:

                    1. Like the Super Bowl Idea, you host a mini tournament 2-3 weeks later. The four teams could run two rounds on Day 1 where they run each side of the case against over two rounds (pairings are all random, factoring in that each team has to run both sides). The top two teams from there play each other in the National Championship round (or rounds). I'm not sure how tie breakers would work in that semi-final round, so that could be an issue. You could do this over the course to two days (or a 1-2-1 over three days).
                    2. We go with a Final Four Bracket. The National Semi-Final round is held on Sunday afternoon/evening after the NCT awards ceremony. Then the National Championship round is the following morning/afternoon. All sides for the three rounds can be determined by coin flip. While I don't love the NCT stretching into Monday, it's something to consider.
                    3. We could use the Semi-Final set up from idea 2 to identify the teams who compete in the Championship round. Then those two teams would compete at the AMTA Super Bowl 2-3 weeks later. This version allows us to stay with the current NCT schedule, have everyone in one place, doesn't have divisions that are too big, and gets us the Super Bowl.

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by geneva View Post

                      Certainly, neither the moratorium or the cap are supposed to be the long term solutions to the problem. As you've quoted, they're about shaving the numbers down and slowing growth so that we don't keep making things worse for ourselves before we've fixed our problem. 17 teams is practically a whole regional. Consider the ~20 new school registrations we get. That would be practically another regional too. And even if we're not getting rid of whole sites, lowering the team numbers by ~5% allows us to relieve some of the strain on the big fields that are at or past capacity.
                      17 teams is close to a Regionals, sure. But these are 17 teams across the country. And when it comes to strain at certain Regionals, it's more about the distribution of teams than just the total number. Many of the overwhelmed sites are being caused by the number of local schools rather than the number of D teams and above. For example, between the New Haven and Minneapolis Regionals, there was one D team. These sites would still be overwhelmed even without D teams. There are just certain areas of the country with a glut of mock trial programs.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Adevans View Post
                        I don't love Super Bowl only because then people don't get to stay and watch, which is part of the fun of Nationals. Also I don't like separate venues because I love getting to be all in one place with all the other great programs that my program has a relationship with.
                        I just don't think these reasons are good enough to discount the only viable proposal I've seen so far. Having 64 teams in one place isn't viable unless we go back to a permanent NCT site. Adding another level of tournaments isn't really that viable either, and it still doesn't solve the Nationals size problem. There are plenty of logistical challenges with having two NCT sites, but it seems to be much more of a realistic option than anything else out there.

                        Too bad we don't have another forum to discuss this on, though.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Return of the Mock View Post

                          17 teams is close to a Regionals, sure. But these are 17 teams across the country. And when it comes to strain at certain Regionals, it's more about the distribution of teams than just the total number. Many of the overwhelmed sites are being caused by the number of local schools rather than the number of D teams and above. For example, between the New Haven and Minneapolis Regionals, there was one D team. These sites would still be overwhelmed even without D teams. There are just certain areas of the country with a glut of mock trial programs.
                          Right, I don't think cutting a whole regional site is realistic. I set up that example so people could conceptualize the size of the impact. You're right that our D, E, F teams are generally spread out, with a concentration in the west and south and to a lesser extent in the mid west. I used the 17 figure that another poster provided but the number was actually much higher. 35 D, E, F teams registered this year. About 10 dropped, making it about 25 that competed. And you're right that this won't alleviate problems at all sites, but we should keep in mind that a site like New Haven or Minneapolis may be able to slide a couple of its teams into a neighboring site that benefits from a reduction. Even if that's not a geographic possibility for those particular sites, simply because an idea doesn't resolve all problems at all sites is not an argument against implementing it as a bandaid solution that helps other sites. The other way that we have to think about this idea is prospective schools that may be wanting to field D teams in the near future. Just because it's only 35 teams now doesn't mean it'll stay at that level. As teams get better and deeper, more programs are going to grow, and keep causing strain on the system. I think AMTA made a wise decision a few years back by "waitlisting" all D, E, F teams until other teams were placed, but they still have a policy preference in favor of finding spots for those teams. I'm proposing that it's time to take another step, and phase them out of regionals.

                          DevilsAdvocate, I don't think your concern is realistic. But I welcome voices from the big programs to tell me otherwise. My take on the majority of those schools with a lot of teams is that they are contributing members of AMTA who see the problems we are facing, and they won't hold their invitationals/regionals hostage because their D or E can't compete at regionals. As I suggested, those teams are still free to go to invitationals, practice, learn, and be feeders for future A/B/C members.

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                          • #28
                            geneva- I think it goes back to the principle that AMTA is not going to 1. turn away money & 2. do anything that goes against their mantra of allowing mock trial for all. I don't think cutting D, E, and F teams is the solution. Getting rid of those 17 teams equates to a minimum reduction of $3400 dollars. It's a drop in the bucket when you think about the totality of AMTA's budget but money is money and the last thing AMTA wants to deal with is the suppression of large programs because hosts can't recruit more judges. I just think drawing the line at three teams is super arbitrary and leads to more people being angry than it does actually solving the growth problems. I think cutting everyone at two teams for competitive season would be a more viable albeit drastic option. Would eliminate open bids which I think could solve a lot of financial and logistical headache

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by geneva View Post

                              Right, I don't think cutting a whole regional site is realistic. I set up that example so people could conceptualize the size of the impact. You're right that our D, E, F teams are generally spread out, with a concentration in the west and south and to a lesser extent in the mid west. I used the 17 figure that another poster provided but the number was actually much higher. 35 D, E, F teams registered this year. About 10 dropped, making it about 25 that competed. And you're right that this won't alleviate problems at all sites, but we should keep in mind that a site like New Haven or Minneapolis may be able to slide a couple of its teams into a neighboring site that benefits from a reduction. Even if that's not a geographic possibility for those particular sites, simply because an idea doesn't resolve all problems at all sites is not an argument against implementing it as a bandaid solution that helps other sites. The other way that we have to think about this idea is prospective schools that may be wanting to field D teams in the near future. Just because it's only 35 teams now doesn't mean it'll stay at that level. As teams get better and deeper, more programs are going to grow, and keep causing strain on the system. I think AMTA made a wise decision a few years back by "waitlisting" all D, E, F teams until other teams were placed, but they still have a policy preference in favor of finding spots for those teams. I'm proposing that it's time to take another step, and phase them out of regionals.
                              The misreported number was on me. My apologies. I'm not sure what mistake I did when counting last night to get 17, but I'll defer to your calculations. However, between 35 and 25, I think the number worth focusing on is 25. Registration doesn't mean anything unless the team actually competes at Regionals. So I'd say that 25 is the more relevant number when discussing this proposal.

                              But even at 25, I still stand by my initial point that limiting programs to three teams (i.e. cutting these 25 teams) would do little to solve the issue, both in the present and going forward. The same logic stands that it won't really alleviate some of the most overwhelmed sites such as New Haven or Minneapolis. Regarding being able to slide teams to neighboring sites, if that were a potential solution, it would have been done this year. It's not like all of the sites were at 32 teams, only a few. So if it were simple to move teams over to another Regional to balance things out, I'm sure that would have been done. Rather, I'm guessing there wasn't another reasonable site to send some of these teams stationed in New Haven or Minneapolis, which doesn't change with fewer teams.

                              As for the argument that the 25 teams won't stay at this level forever, that's certainly true. Things change each year. But I've gone through the registered teams from 2013-2018 (double-checking my work this time), and here are the number of D, E, and F teams that competed at Regionals each year:
                              • 2018: 29
                              • 2017: 22
                              • 2016: 21
                              • 2015: 22
                              • 2014: 21
                              • 2013: 21
                              Aside from the slight spike in 2018 (which should not be discounted), the number of D teams and above has been steady for years. And given how much expansion AMTA has seen in the number of teams, this also means that D and above teams have made up a smaller and smaller percent of teams nationwide each year. Would cutting those teams make a marginal difference? I suppose. Is it a significant enough difference to cut those teams entirely? I don't think so. In addition to the monetary point, some of those students turn around and give back to the AMTA community. It would be a shame to lose out on those people. And, yes, an argument was made that those teams could remain in the invitational circuit but not compete at AMTA-sanctioned tournaments, but teams are free to do that now. And it would save them from having to pay registration fees for that team, yet we don't really see folks who take advantage of it. I only know of one program who attempted something like that, and the whole team slatted not to go to Regionals ended up quitting. So I don't know how viable that is.

                              When it comes to programs with D teams and above, it might make more sense to leverage their size rather than to arbitrarily shrink them. Maybe programs with D teams and above should be expected to host? I'm assuming a program that can float four or more teams probably has the resources to host an AMTA tournament if they don't already. That probably doesn't solve the ORCS/Nats problem, but it might help to avoid some of the overcrowded Regionals (though not all as discussed above).
                              Last edited by Return of the Mock; March 19th, 2019, 03:16 PM.

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                              • #30
                                This is a great discussion. It seems like this thread is on the same page in one key respect: five bids from 9 ORCS with three open bids cannot continue. What I don't understand is how the previously discussed adjustments to AMTA solve the 5 bids per ORCS nightmare. I guess I lost track of the implications of your offered adjustments.

                                For example, if teams are limited to A-C, what impact does that have on the total number of Regionals, ORCS, and the number of bids from each ORCS? Same thing goes for the proponent of the Districts idea. What implication does Districts have on the number of bids awarded at each ORCS?

                                I am not sure if there is a way for data to support it, but as a member of this community for over 15 years (new to perjuries), until perhaps 5-7 years ago, an NCT cut-off at 48 reasonably captured the best of the best. In other words, the drop-off in quality from 49-XXX was significant enough for the AMTA community to support, or at minimum, tolerate ORCS results (or whatever tournament preceded the NCT). But as this fantastic activity grows, more and more schools master a winning formula of mock trial. I think most on here would agree that the new "drop-off" so to speak, or a result that folks in our community can support/tolerate should now include more than 48.

                                Some on this thread have distinguished between a downstream versus upstream approach. We need to tackle this from both ends. AMTA needs to of course manage growth and the swell at the Regionals stage, but I fear neglecting the need to broaden access to the NCT will damage AMTA's truly special community. Overhearing coaches and competitors in tab indicating their desire to leave because of this new structure is alarming to me. Some of these coaches have been around for decades. And these aren't sore losers either. Some colleagues of mine were on the advancing side of things, but watched as teams they believed were better - or at minimum just as deserving - missed their chance because the new structure cut things off at five. The moral of this story for me is that five ORCS bids simply isn't sustainable.

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