PMA upset after forfeit at debate tournament


Kenny Wilkerson

Debate allows for people to speak their mind, mainly on political topics with the intent to persuade and on October 12 PMA was not allowed to speak their mind.

The PMA Debate Team recently had a debate tournament at Solorio High School, but did not compete. Due to their late arrival, the tournament director awarded forfeits to Phoenix.

Debate captain Joel Cortes weighed in on the debate forfeit.

They cheated us out of a tournament, I think us walking out of the entire tournament was justified,”

— senior Joel Cortes

Junior Luis Trejo shares Cortes’ frustration.

“We would have been going into round 2 with a losing record, the only way that any of us would have had in order to advance to the elimination rounds we would have been if we won all of the rounds after that and because the tournament was small, that might have not been good enough,” said Trejo.

Because the tournament was small, a forfeit would have meant that the other schools would have had the upper hand.

“In order for it to have been fair, BYEs should have been awarded to both schools; you should not penalize a school for being late nor the other debaters for not being able to compete,” Ms.Garcia stated.

Mr. Edwards knew that Phoenix would be arriving late to the tournament, he started email communications on Tuesday the week of in order to ensure that Phoenix would not be forfeited for the first round. According to email communications, Mr. Edwards contacted the tournament director informing him that they  would be late and of the possibility they might arrive on or after the 5:15 forfeit time.

On Tuesday, October 9 at 2:31, Mr. Edwards wrote to the tournament director:

“At this point, I am having trouble getting a bus for a variety of reasons. Long story short, Phoenix will be running late, and I am looking at a 5:15pm arrival, which is the forfeit time.

I will call or text you (***-***-****) on Friday afternoon when I have more accurate information, but I may ask you to secure 16 meals for my team plus two coaches, a strategy that has worked in the past.

Also, if I run so late as to jeopardize the tournament I will also let you know, and that in the past those round ones were converted to bye rounds.

Just wanted to give you a heads up”

The tournament director replied at 2:33 that same day stating:

“Sounds good, thanks for the heads up. In the event that I forget, could you remind me as well on Friday if anything changes?

Thanks again”

Both Mr. Edwards and Ms. Garcia were in communication with the tournament director that Friday. When Ms. Garcia called, she was informed that they were issuing forfeits because they believed that Phoenix would be arriving by 5:15.

“I was told that they were trying to decide if they would issue forfeited or BYEs by the number of judges that we had on site.. Our obligation was four and all four were on site and I still had two more on their way, so I had no reason to believe that they would be issuing forfeits, And because the Director of Programmings was on site, we were being told that he would also be involved in the decision making process,” Ms. Garcia explained.

In addition, a mother of one the freshman team members drove all the way from O’Hare to Solorio to watch her son compete.

In the past, schools that have been late due to traffic and/or weather, have received BYEs, this is the first time in years that they decided to give forfeits. According to the tournament results from last year, Ogden International was late for the first round during the second and fourth tournament and were awarded BYEs.

The decision to leave the tournament was not one that was made in the heat of the moment.When Mr. Edwards and Ms.Garcia became aware of the possibility that they may be issued a forfeit they discussed leaving.  The decision was also backed by alumni Ciar Jones and Jace Hunter.

“I knew that nothing was going to be resolved that evening, everyone’s emotions got the better of them, that’s why I returned on Saturday and had a conversation with the Director of Programming so we could reflect, try to resolve, and come up with a plan so an incident like the one that occured Friday evening would not happen again,” said Ms. Garcia

Although the team still received a forfeit, Garcia felt she did get a resolution.

“After speaking with the Director of Programming for two and a half hours, I feel confident that we both saw each others points and we were better able to understand where we [both Phoenix and the league] were coming from.” said Ms. Garcia.

Chicago Debates,formally known as the Chicago Debate League, has since issued an apology and changed the forfeits to BYEs to both Phoenix, Solorio and Von Steuben for round one and two.

The next tournament is November 9th and 10th at Von Steuben.