Well, let’s just say that there were fireworks in debate class this week. Class started with some hiccups–Alex, the debate student sponsor didn’t show Atif, an inmate facilitator who had the mock debate video we were supposed to watch didn’t show, which meant no video and Perry, the inmate who spearheaded the class, showed for the first time. Apparently, Perry wasn’t put on the call out for the previous classes. He apologized for his prior absences and for the others’ current absence.
Class handouts were passed around and we then tried to figure out what topic to debate. Guys started getting frustrated and voiced their disapproval with the lack of structured class activities, which I found juvenile because if you ever learned anything about prison, it’s that few things happen as planned. It’s basic Murphy’s Law: what can happen, will (or not).
We then had a group discussion about what type of debate form we should use, only to learn that Perry didn’t have the handout on that either. But luckily someone had a copy of a different version of the handout. Mind you: during this time guys are griping about when we’re going to debate and what topic to debate. But we eventually got on track and debated the statement: “Brady is more responsible for the Patriot’s success than Bellichick.” We broke into teams and (using the British Parliamentary debate model) went for it. Now I didn’t know the stats or specifics of the topic (I’m not that much into football beyond the Seahawks) but chose to participate anyway.
Guys were tearing it up about how Bellichick won Superbowls with other teams, how he was a great defensive coordinator, how he was a mastermind, and how when Brady was out, Matt Cassel replaced him and the team went 11-5. I was only slightly familiar with the last point.
So I was paired up with a guy who proposed comparing Brady and Bellichick to a driver instructor and a student driver, whether the instructor or the student is responsible for the car crashing. I suggested he use a better analogy (e.g., where a team rather than an individual is considered) and he dismissed my suggestion as overthinking it.
To make a long story short, my partner bombed. I tried to help him refocus but he had a minor crash himself (pun intended). When he presented the comparison, he lost faith in it as he went along. Afteward, the opposition got up, made some alright claims, and then I was up.
I opened letting everyone know that I’m just winging it on this unfamiliar topic. I started by supporting the previous government’s point that Brady often makes the crunch-time decision to change Bellichick’s play calls and win games, even during Superbowls. The opposition made a lot of arguments that Bellichick has had more success (SB rings) with other teams. But I countered with that is irrelevant to the question. We’re talking about success with the “Patriot’s”, not previous team successes. Plus, even benched players get a SB ring.
The opposition also argued that because Bellichick has everyone under him, even Tom Brady, that it’s obvious that Bellichick is more important. I countered with the virtue of one’s position alone doesn’t make someone more successful. In that case, anyone with a higher position than Tom Brady would be more responsible for the Patriot’s success.
I only used about a minute of the three minutes I had and after finishing several guys in the class pounded the table to show their approval of my argument. One guy said it was so short but destroyed the previous arguments. Michelle, the outside volunteer, voted that my team won the debate. Then an inmate sports buff, who actually believes Bellichick is more responsible, agreed that our team won the debate.
Next week we’re going to debate that Washington state should reinstate the Parole system. That will be interesting because as prisoners we’re all pro parole. So it will be hard to oppose that proposition. But we’re creative enough to make a case, how strong, who knows. But it can be made.
Categories: EDUCATION & PROGRAMS, Jacob J. Gamet
Nice! Class sounds interesting.