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2019 Agenda - Limiting NCT to One Team Per Program

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  • 2019 Agenda - Limiting NCT to One Team Per Program

    "TFC-05: Motion by Bernstein that, for the National Championship Tournament, no school may earn more than one bid to the National Championship Tournament and rosters may include up to 12 students. 9

    Rationale: It is becoming increasingly difficult to earn a bid to NCT, as the number of teams is increasing and the number of NCT bids is not. This proposal is based on two principles: at the margins, it is better to include more schools at NCT; and NCT size should not be increased because it would create too great a strain on hosts."

    Discuss this item here!
    Last edited by nunya; July 9th, 2019, 04:29 PM.

  • #2
    I like expanding the roster size. Not a fan of limiting schools to just one team. It's not like second teams are taking up tons of spots, and as much as possible I think we want to have the best possible teams at Nationals.

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    • #3
      This is a disastrous idea (For reference, I am a former president of a Top 15 team that has qualified two teams to nationals).

      Mock trial organizations are already notoriously political and drama-filled. I could not imagine having to tell our B team members that they had to compete at ORCS but most of them would not compete at Nationals, no matter how well they did. Its already difficult enough having that conversation with members of our C team who compete at Regionals because of the two team limit at ORCS. I'm not sure if any undergrad president, or coach for that matter, wants to deal with the political nightmare of watching both of their teams take home a trophy at ORCS and only letting one team compete. There would be no real celebration. B team members would be skeptical, knowing that they were holding a meaningless trophy and that only some of them would be able to make it to the next round, despite the TEAM victory.

      To the extent that mock trial teams already have interpersonal drama, this will exacerbate the problem. You will undoubtedly have situations at ORCS where the "one team limit" is the elephant in the room, and B team members are silently rooting against their A team over the weekend and at closings. Even worse, B team members may start lobbying for spots on the A team roster by throwing other B team members under the bus even before ORCS. It sounds extreme, but this is mock trial and we all know that it happens. At my school, our A and B teams got along very well. With this rule in place, the new toxicity would be unbearable.

      It's also really important to realize that the new toxicity won't only hurt schools that get 2 teams to nationals. It will hurt EVERY school that has 2 teams at ORCS for the reasons I just mentioned.

      It's also plainly unfair. Why are we punishing members of a team because they also happen to be in a program with other very good people? AMTA is already pushing the envelope by not allowing three teams at ORCS. Mock trial is a competition and to say that the nationals qualification should be based on anything BUT team performance is plain wrong.

      Although they are considering expanding team rosters, AMTA is missing the point. Teams often have only 7 or 8 members on their A teams because only 7 or 8 people are good enough for A team. Some teams (like Yale) also have A and B teams with VERY different styles, and each team is basically like an A team in their own right. Team captains are not going to want to mix up the pot with 2-3 weeks to prep before nationals. Furthermore, if an A team is trying to win 5th round, there is no way in hell that they're going to have a 12 person team where every person is double sided. It's impossible enough to find 5-6 hour practice schedules with a 7-8 person team right before Nats. AMTA is seriously misguided if they think that any A team can manage a 12 person schedule under that time crunch.

      In conclusion, everyone who competes in mock trial wants to be the best. That's why it's such a great competition with great members. The nature of the sport already makes the idea of an A, B, and C team hierarchy difficult to navigate if you're a coach or a president. Without great leadership, programs often become divided, people quit, and the sport stops being as fun as it was in high school.

      AMTA does not realize how badly this rule will tear programs apart. I've seen enough C team members quit because of AMTA's harsh rules. Don't make mock trial a single team sport.



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      • #4
        I think this is a terrible idea. I could maybe see some support for this if B teams at the NCT were consistently placing at the bottom of the pack, but the opposite seems to be true in recent years.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by 801D2A View Post
          This is a disastrous idea (For reference, I am a former president of a Top 15 team that has qualified two teams to nationals).

          Mock trial organizations are already notoriously political and drama-filled. I could not imagine having to tell our B team members that they had to compete at ORCS but most of them would not compete at Nationals, no matter how well they did. Its already difficult enough having that conversation with members of our C team who compete at Regionals because of the two team limit at ORCS. I'm not sure if any undergrad president, or coach for that matter, wants to deal with the political nightmare of watching both of their teams take home a trophy at ORCS and only letting one team compete. There would be no real celebration. B team members would be skeptical, knowing that they were holding a meaningless trophy and that only some of them would be able to make it to the next round, despite the TEAM victory.

          To the extent that mock trial teams already have interpersonal drama, this will exacerbate the problem. You will undoubtedly have situations at ORCS where the "one team limit" is the elephant in the room, and B team members are silently rooting against their A team over the weekend and at closings. Even worse, B team members may start lobbying for spots on the A team roster by throwing other B team members under the bus even before ORCS. It sounds extreme, but this is mock trial and we all know that it happens. At my school, our A and B teams got along very well. With this rule in place, the new toxicity would be unbearable.

          It's also really important to realize that the new toxicity won't only hurt schools that get 2 teams to nationals. It will hurt EVERY school that has 2 teams at ORCS for the reasons I just mentioned.

          It's also plainly unfair. Why are we punishing members of a team because they also happen to be in a program with other very good people? AMTA is already pushing the envelope by not allowing three teams at ORCS. Mock trial is a competition and to say that the nationals qualification should be based on anything BUT team performance is plain wrong.

          Although they are considering expanding team rosters, AMTA is missing the point. Teams often have only 7 or 8 members on their A teams because only 7 or 8 people are good enough for A team. Some teams (like Yale) also have A and B teams with VERY different styles, and each team is basically like an A team in their own right. Team captains are not going to want to mix up the pot with 2-3 weeks to prep before nationals. Furthermore, if an A team is trying to win 5th round, there is no way in hell that they're going to have a 12 person team where every person is double sided. It's impossible enough to find 5-6 hour practice schedules with a 7-8 person team right before Nats. AMTA is seriously misguided if they think that any A team can manage a 12 person schedule under that time crunch.

          In conclusion, everyone who competes in mock trial wants to be the best. That's why it's such a great competition with great members. The nature of the sport already makes the idea of an A, B, and C team hierarchy difficult to navigate if you're a coach or a president. Without great leadership, programs often become divided, people quit, and the sport stops being as fun as it was in high school.

          AMTA does not realize how badly this rule will tear programs apart. I've seen enough C team members quit because of AMTA's harsh rules. Don't make mock trial a single team sport.


          If I understand your argument correctly, most of your protest to the motion centers on a program's internal turmoil that could result. That is certainly possible, if programs don't adequately adjust their philosophies to maintain its meritocratic approach (or whatever approach the program maintains). But to say this motion categorically precludes top programs from maintaining a healthy composition is a bit dramatic. Top programs will simply have to adjust their approach to team composition for the NCT, and communicate that anticipated approach to membership as early as possible. For example, if two teams advance from ORCS from the same program, the program should pull the 12 best from both teams to comprise its most competitive NCT team. Since the case is entirely new anyway, reformatting and combining members onto one large team is all the more feasible. Captains hesitating to "mix up the pot" is not a convincing argument to me, nor is the suggestion that logistical hurdles of 12 rather than 8 justify rejecting the motion. Part of this exercise, and part of practicing law, requires collaborating and working cohesively with different styles and attitudes, often in a limited time span.

          At first glance, your statement that this motion is "plainly unfair" is, well, fair. If a second team finishes in the top 5 (or possibly 6 if AMTA reverts to the previous ORCS format), fairness dictates that those individuals comprising that team should attend the NCT. I expect the increase to 12 members is designed to compensate for that ostensible unfairness. In other words, those members will attend the NCT, but on the roster of the program's single team of 12. Is it possible that 2-5 members will be excluded from the NCT roster? Yes. But if this passes, I think this resolution compensates for the unfairness effectively by minimizing the number of competitors who will miss out (that shouldn't), if any, by opening up the NCT to deserving programs who may miss the NCT, yet have 6 wins and an impressive CS.

          Globally, programatic adjustments and possible turmoil is outweighed by AMTA's rationale for the motion - to give more programs a chance to attend the NCT.

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't think a program's inability to manage their internal drama should be any justification for passing or not passing a motion. If your B team behaves negatively towards your A team, that is a failing caused by the individuals in your own program, not by anything AMTA does or does not do. If you have good leadership then everyone in your program should understand that competitors compete for their school, not for themselves. The same logic goes for scheduling issues on a 12 person team. An individual team's scheduling conflicts are not AMTA's problem. Everyone struggles and makes sacrifices to coordinate their schedules. And this proposal doesn't force anyone to field a 12 person team. Your 6 person team schools are still free to operate as they always have. It's simply an additional option, that for some schools who's students could use the reduced workload of not having to double side anyone, is a good option. A 12 person team also allows some schools the option of a full A vs. A scrimmage.

            There is certainly a competitiveness argument to including B/C/D etc. schools at all levels of competition. I am sympathetic to that argument, and would not begrudge anyone for staunchly adhering to it. There are, however, other goals to this activity. The first of which is an educational goal. Eliminating a handful of B teams will open the immense educational opportunity of the NCT to a more diverse range of students from schools that will still be highly competitive. I also think we can look to the core of what the point of the NCT is, and how other competitive team activities operate, to rightfully question why we allow B teams. The point of the NCT is to crown the national champion of mock trial for that given year. The award is given to the school, not to team number x or students x, y, and z. I think there is merit behind the principle that, regardless of a program's depth, at the national championship each school should get one bite at the apple. The University of Alabama could probably field a competitive B team in football if that were an option, Duke could surely field a competitive B team in basketball as well. Yet in these other, competitive, team-oriented activities in which awards are given to schools and not teams or individuals, each school gets only one bite at the apple. In my eyes, mock trial should be the same way. The NCT should be a place where each school gets to send one team, of their absolute best, and on a completely level playing field the national champion should thus emerge.

            Comment


            • #7
              First, there's a reason why the most successful nationals teams only have around 6-8 people and most attorneys are double sided. I can point to Yale, UVA , NYU, Cornell, and Columbia as pretty strong examples. Sure, AMTA would be throwing in the option of a 12 person team, but based on my experience as an A team captain and knowing how the game works, a team that is serious about winning 5th round just won't assemble a 12 person team. It's a false attempt to make the rule look more appealing.

              Also, the football analogy is way off. In college football, a school has one team THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SEASON. So the equivalent in mock trial would be letting schools only field one team. But as long as you're going to let a school field two teams and compete in elimination tournaments, why are we changing the rules at the last minute right before nationals? If you want this to be more like college sports, fine, eliminate B teams altogether. But compulsory elimination no matter how good a B team does at ORCS?

              And on the diversity of schools point, there's no limiting principle here. What's next? Teams that have 3 consecutive nationals appearances can't compete at Nats the fourth year? Teams that haven't been to Nats get to skip regionals and go straight to ORCS to give them a better shot? Once we start making Nationals contingent on anything but merit, this stops becoming a competition and starts looking more like pro wrestling.

              And fine, even if you don't buy the discord argument, which I still stand by as a huge problem, what about the damage this will do to team incentives? What exactly is a freshman witness on B team competing for at ORCS? Bragging rights that they were good enough to go to nationals? Mock trial is such a huge time commitment, bragging rights are not worth it.

              And this feeds into your next point, which is that mock trial is educational. Of course it is. I don't disagree. But the real reason we compete is for the competition. Lets say we eliminated ballots altogether and made it more like a theater performance. Do you really think people would stick around just so they could becomes experts on a fictitious state's case law? We like to compete and win. When winning is off the table before opening ceremonies on Saturday, remind me of why are we doing this ?

              And yes, I agree that teams should adjust to AMTA's rules, but that doesn't mean AMTA needs to make organizational politics any harder than it needs to be. This will be especially difficult on student run organizations. Coaches can insulate themselves from personality issues because they have more of a professor relationship with the students. But when you are in the same class as someone, live in the same dorm as someone, and mock trial is your social group, these types of decisions can be corrosive to the leader's and the team's mental health.

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              • #8
                Also STC, I'm not sure where you're getting this idea that AMTA treats the competition like a single school affair. TPR doesn't rank schools, it ranks teams. The A/B team concept is fully ingrained in AMTA culture. If it weren't, then Yale A would have competed in the 5th round in 2018 despite their B team winning the division.

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                • #9
                  A question for those who say they support this motion--do you any of you come from programs that have earned two bids to Nationals? Were you ever on one of those teams? Because I agree with 801D2A here: this is a competitive activity (we don't all get participation ribbons and hold hands and sing together at NCT...).
                  Last edited by wanf; July 10th, 2019, 11:26 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wanf View Post
                    A question for those who say they support this motion--do you any of you come from programs which have earned two bids to Nationals? Were you ever on one of those teams? Because I agree with 801D2A here: this is a competitive activity (we don't all get participation ribbons and hold hands and sing together at NCT...).
                    Yes and yes.

                    801D2A - I don't think AMTA is making a "false attempt" here. Sure, some programs double attorney and therefore keep their roster low, but you're omitting other top programs that maintain single-sided attorneys. This issue boils down to choice. The increase to 12 gives programs the choice to alter their approach to single-sided (and presumably address your programatic concerns), or maintain its double-sided and deal with the resulting "drama" as you call it. I do agree with you; the sports analogy isn't perfect. But it does capture the spirit of what STC is arguing.

                    Your slippery slope argument regarding programatic diversity is unfounded. Historically, AMTA's restructuring is deliberate and measured. Even the largest structural changes, such as the ORCS integration, was deliberated extensively and has lasted without significant modification for over a decade. I like to think members of the AMTA community trust the organization enough to reject your claim that if this motion passes, the floodgates will open.

                    Lastly, I relate to your competitive spirit argument. I truly do. But AMTA's mission remains educational in nature, and to the extent this motion better aligns with that mission, your unofficial mission, so to speak, must take a supporting role. That's of course assuming that this motion does not maintain the competitive integrity of the activity, which I reiterate that it would.
                    Last edited by shasp; July 10th, 2019, 12:00 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Show me a recent example of a championship team having all single sided attorneys. Sure, AMTA is giving us a choice. A choice between a greater chance at winning and keeping the peace. Its already hard enough to keep the peace at the moment. At least if a program only gets one team to Nats, it can be easily defended by saying, "Hey, you didn't win enough ballots, maybe next year". Now, AMTA is creating an expectation of 12 person teams when, like I said, 12 person teams are unrealistic if you're actually trying to win 5th round.

                      Unfounded? I'm not sure how deliberative the process is if AMTA is already going to bring back the 6 team ORCS qualifiers after only one season of using the 5 team rule. Anyone could have anticipated that 6-2 teams wouldn't go to nationals under the new rule, yet AMTA either overlooked this or changed on a dime.

                      And even if this is educational, how will a greater number of individuals learn more under this new proposal? All you're doing is swapping out teams. If you want to increase education, increase the field.

                      It may also backfire, hurting educational value. If even one B team member in the country quits college mock trial over this rule, AMTA has failed in their mission to educate.
                      Last edited by 801D2A; July 10th, 2019, 12:17 PM.

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                      • #12
                        I've been a student program leader who was tasked with telling C team members they would not be moving on to ORCS despite earning a bid, and I've also been a coach of a B team that earned a bid to Nats. I don't think that the competitiveness and/or team dynamic concerns raised above defeat the rationale for the motion, and I support the motion for the reasons that STC stated. It's getting so hard to qualify to NCT and, especially if the other motions from Bernstein do not pass, luck is going to continue to play a bigger role in who qualifies through. I think it's fair for AMTA to push the decision of putting your best team together in the hands of the schools, and to draw a line in the sand to say we're only inviting your best roster to our final championship. It's also fair for them to prioritize exposing the highest number of schools possible to that final championship.

                        Last edited by geneva; July 10th, 2019, 12:22 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Wait, so why is it fair though? You're justing saying that it's fair, but why? Because getting to Nationals is too hard? Well if that's the case, taking bids away from 6-2 teams and giving them to 5-3 teams doesn't solve the problem. It may solve the problem for teams that are not good enough to get to nationals, but it comes at the expense of taking away bids from other teams. Why would any team that went 5-3 or 4-4 feel proud to attend Nationals when they're taking a better team's bid?

                          This is taking pride away from B teams. At some schools, B teams aren't a kiss of death. B teams do well, consistently go to ORCS, have their own culture of practicing and mock style. And when they kick ass at a tournament, its awesome. They control their own destiny and if they work hard enough, they know that they can get a bid to nationals in their own right, without having to worry about re-stacks. Its a just system. But by removing B team's autonomy, they are purely at the mercy of A team.

                          I also don't understand this "one school-one team mentality". That's just not how AMTA has ever operated. If you want AMTA to be a "one school-one team" competition, then get rid of B and C teams altogether. Why are we trying to go about this half measure through compulsory elimination?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 801D2A View Post

                            I also don't understand this "one school-one team mentality". That's just not how AMTA has ever operated. If you want AMTA to be a "one school-one team" competition, then get rid of B and C teams altogether. Why are we trying to go about this half measure through compulsory elimination?
                            Why can't AMTA embrace this "one school-one team" mentality solely for its NCT and maintain the integrity of the game and its mission? This all-or-nothing absolute that you propose doesn't seem necessary. Permitting multiple teams to compete during almost the entire season maximizes AMTA's educational mission, and embracing the one school-one team mentality for the NCT likewise complements AMTA's mission.

                            I sense that you hail (or hailed?) from a program that maintains a clear separation between your A and B team, and perhaps for good reasons. But whatever those reasons are, maintaining the current NCT structure for the reasons stated just isn't convincing to me. I'm just one person though; perhaps board members will align with this more strongly.

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                            • #15
                              Fair question, and I think the answer is because educational goals are achieved through incentives. By passing a compulsory elimination rule, you're taking away incentives to practice that extra hour before ORCS. And sure, you may say "well b team members know that they'll eligible to join A team", but that's very different from knowing that if your team does well at ORCS, you're going to Nats and no one can take that away from you. My all or nothing approach is getting at the idea that it's wrong for AMTA to pull the rug out from under a team midseason.

                              Actually, I come from a school where our A and B teams get along very well and are both very good. But we also saw B team as a training ground for A team. There was nothing better for our program than when we could field two teams at Nationals. It gave B team members priceless experience without having to dilute talent on our A team.

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