- Developing wind power on Indian reservations is key to fighting global warming and water shortages, but how can we do it without massive improvements in our electrical grid?
- We can't increase the use of solar power, because demand for silver and silicon is already too high, and we'd need enormous quantities of silicon to build superconducting transmission systems to efficiently carry electricity from desert solar farms.
- A big shift to alternative energy will drive down oil prices and wreck the Russian economy, and that's a recipe for another Russian civil war and loose nukes.
The Sioux Falls Roosevelt Rough Rider Debate Invitational is the traditional opening of the high school debate season in South Dakota. Hundreds of South Dakota students will argue their way through ten more regular season weekend contests, the last of which is the Karl E. Mundt Debate Tournament hosted right here in Madison. Mundt, as we veterans of the contest call it, traditionally draws every debate team in the state to Madison High School and the DSU campus on the chilly second weekend of February. Mundt is the last contest for novice and junior varsity debaters. Some schools treat Mundt as the unofficial state championship for the novice debaters. The varsity debaters relish Mundt as their last chance to sharpen their cases and scout out the competition before the big National-qualifying and State tournaments that follow.
Mundt is a big deal, not only for debaters and coaches, but for the Karl E. Mundt Foundation, based here in Madison. Most readers will recognize Senator Mundt as a five-term Congressman and four-term Senator for South Dakota. But before his service to South Dakota in Washington, Karl Mundt was Madison High School debater. He went on to (among other things) coach debate here at Eastern Normal (now DSU). Karl Mundt the educator helped start the National Forensic League, the national honor society for speech activities, and served as NFL President for 40 years.
To honor Senator Mundt's contributions to speech and education in South Dakota, the Mundt Foundation sponsors the Mundt Debate Tournament. Madison High School has proudly hosted Mundt for four decades, with assistance from DSU.
But now Madison High School wants to withdraw from that proud tradition. Madison High School debate coach Renee Nills recently sent an e-mail to South Dakota's debate coaches announcing that this will be the last year that Madison High School opens its doors to the hundreds of students who compete at Mundt each year.
I've been proudly involved with Mundt for most of the last twenty years. I won a Mundt trophy in humor my senior year (after a final round in Doc Miller's classroom). I helped coaches Ken Larson, Trudi Nelson, and Erik Johnson run Mundt for several years before running it myself for two seasons. I brought Montrose debaters to compete at Mundt for five seasons. If I'm in town in February, I'm at Mundt.
Mundt is a proud Madison tradition, a proud Madison High School tradition. It's a feather in our community cap to play host to teams from the biggest schools in the state—Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, etc.—for their last regular season contest. It's a great way for Madison High School and the Bulldog debate team to honor one of our most famous and successful alumni.
Why on earth would Madison High School not want to host this prestigious event?
Whatever the reasons, if Madison High School withdraws its support for this event, Mundt may end. There is discussion about DSU taking over the tournament to keep Mundt in Madison. However, having directed the Mundt Debate Tournament at MHS as well as the Mundt/Dakota Invitational Interp Contest at DSU, I worry that DSU may not have sufficient facilities to host the debate contest. The Mundt Debate Tournament uses nearly 60 rooms on Friday afternoon and over 80 rooms at MHS and DSU Friday evening and Saturday. For DSU's October interp contest, we can just barely find 60 contest spaces on campus... and that's only on Saturday, after classes are done and the campus has mostly cleared out.
Without support from MHS, DSU could host some sort of debate contest in February, but it would likely be a scaled-down version of Mundt. And at the end of the season, coaches don't want a scaled-down tournament. Coaches want all of their kids to have the chance to compete and learn at the last invitational contest of the season. If they can't get that opportunity in Madison, they'll take their teams elsewhere. The Mundt Tournament will collapse, and Madison and the Mundt Foundation will lose out.
When I wasn't being bombarded with great arguments and oratory from kids at Rough Rider yesterday, I chatted with a couple coaches about Mundt. One coach told me that when he got Coach Nills's e-mail, he went straight to his administration and asked if they'd be interested in hosting. The response: Absolutely. Show off the school, bring folks to town—"We'd be proud to."
We'd be proud to. That's exactly the response Madison High School should be giving. We should be proud to honor Senator Mundt, a favorite son, by hosting a grand debate tournament. Senator Mundt would be proud to see South Dakota's best and brightest young people coming to Madison every year to display the brilliant rhetorical skills that Mundt himself learned and taught right here in our community.
The Karl E. Mundt Debate Tournament belongs in Madison, at Madison High School. It is a fitting tribute to a favorite son. Friends of Senator Mundt, alumni of MHS and Bulldog Debate, parents, businesses, and community boosters should work together to keep this proud tradition in Madison.
[photos courtesy Mundt Archives, Karl E. Mundt Foundation]