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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Facilities Strained? Build a New Mundt Debate Building!

(To Anon 11/17 6:29: No anti-sports talk? Agreed! So let's try a comparison....)

I'm feeling generous: let's ignore fact-checking and entertain Principal Sharon Knowlton's contention that Madison High School lacks the facilities to host a full Mundt Debate Tournament.

An eager reader reminds me that the last time we heard someone say that the Madison Central School District lacked the facilities to properly host big contests, we got a campaign for a new $10-million gym.

Voters turned that proposal down, leaving us with a gym that is arguably too small. Yet the school has not moved to eliminate home basketball games or scale games down to four-on-four. Even with a great strain on our facilities, we find a way to soldier on and maintain educational competitive opportunities for our students and their rivals from around the state.

A $10-million Mundt Memorial Debate Building is probably a little much (although maybe I should send a memo to the Mundt Foundation). I'd settle for seeing the debaters getting their dedicated research and practice space back. But all we really need is to find the can-do spirit that Mundt (the Tournament and the Senator) deserves. Let's keep that tournament going!


  1. I think a $10 million debate building is a great idea ;)

    For the sake of argument, how many former MHS athletes still use the skills they learned on the court or field?

    Compare that to how many of us still use our debate skills. Do you think I'd be a TV journalist without my background in extemp?

    MHS debate has produced lawyers, teachers, and others who continue to use their skills years later.

    So keep the tournament alive!

  2. I'm with you, Steve! 10 years after later and I'm still using skills I first honed in the MHS debate program every day. Thinking on my feet, being comfortable to speak in front of large audiences, reasoning with logic and sound judgment - those are all things I attribute in large part to my debate background.

    I do remember when we all promised Doc Miller that when we became millionaires, we'd give the school money to put in a wood floor on the stage (rather than those white tiles). Maybe that can be worked into the bond issue for the $10 million debate building, too. :)

    Seriously, though, it really saddens me to think that anybody in Madison would want to actively move away from having the Mundt Tournament in town. When I was involved (I volunteered to run the tournament, participated, and/or judged for 10 years) Mundt was a HUGE deal. It was the last tournament of the regular season - which is a great honor to have in a smaller town. Sure, it doesn't bring in hoards of parents, staying in hotels and spending money (like you might get for a basketball tournament) but it's still a big deal for the school & town (or at least I think it should be!).

    It saddens me also, as I read between the lines and guess that the MHS debate program of today may not be as strong as the program I once knew well. It's not a tradition that we just knew in the '90s - it goes back decades. Senator Mundt, for whom the tournament is named, is just one of hundreds of people who have gone on to be better citizens, better employees, better parents, and just better people because of the skills and life-lessons gained thru the MHS debate program.

    I really hope the Mundt Tournament can continue to be hosted in Madison. If I could get there for it, you know I'd volunteer for whatever was needed! :)

  3. Becky! Steve! Great to hear from two veterans of the program!


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