Should the Worlds’ OrgCom host an official Yakka-Party: A Debate / Pro
For a few years now, it has been a loved and honoured tradition of the South African Delegation to host a Yakka-Party. Until Worlds 2013, the party was organized separately from the official part of the tournament. Money was collected and the ingredients for the Yakka (lemons, wodka and sugar) were bought in a private context. For the first time in 2013, the organizers of Berlin Worlds decided to integrate the Yakka-Party into the official schedule. This led to discussions within the OrgCom prior to the event and to discussions between the participants during and afterwards it. Marcus Ewald, member of the OrgCom, and Philipp Schmidtke, volunteer, collected the arguments and reconstructed the most important points in favour and against integrating the Yakka-Party into the official programme.
Pro by Marcus Ewald
First of all, one observation: Debaters like to party. And sometimes, they like to party hard. If you are organizing a debating tournament, next to smooth scheduling and good adjudication you spend many thoughts on how to make the social experience extraordinary. That is especially true for world championships: Most debaters who are coming to Worlds do not plan to win it. They plan to debate as good as possible and after that, they want to drink with old friends and party to make new friends. The experiences made at the socials are the ones that will be remembered. In that respect, I myself am grateful to have been part of what some call – with dread and admiration – the Yakkageddon.
That name already illustrates something: Where there’s party, there’s risk. People can dance too wild and hurt themselves, they can drink too much and do stupid things, or they could accidently poison their bodies with alcohol. People normally know about these risks and accept them. These risks increase dramatically if you increase the scale of a party from 100 people at your average IV to 1.400 people at worlds New Year’s Eve party.
I generally believe that grown up people should be able to handle these risks. But I also believe that as a host, you should make that as easy as possible. That’s why we decided to make Yakka an official part: We wanted to be able to control it. That means to have it at a central location with paramedics, bouncers, easy access for ambulances or police and at an open location where you can easily find scattered drunken bodies. Moreover, we wanted every participant to be able to enjoy the extremely positive atmosphere of a Yakka- party, even if they are not drinking as well.
These thoughts worked: Most people who remember the party liked it and everyone who had problems was taken care of. We had ten cases of people being sent to hospital – that is probably everybody who needed help. All of them are fine now. Just to be clear: At your average private open bar party, those people would just have been brought home by some friends and left alone in their beds.
Since we had the experience from our New Year’s Eve party, where we had more incidents than we could handle, we had professional paramedics at on site. But unfortunately we overestimated the capacity of the people to responsibly enjoy an excessive party. As a result, many volunteers worked incredibly hard to ensure that everyone was taken care of. In the future, it would be wise to have more professionals on site. Thus, my advice to future hosts of tournaments of that scale: Include socials like the Yakka-party in the schedule. They are memorable, and this particular one at Berlin Worlds was legendary. Make sure that everyone who cannot take care of themselves is helped by someone professional. In the end, debaters are grown-ups and there is nothing inherently bad about a bad hangover that teaches you that things have consequences.
Please read the contra article first before writing a comment here.
Text: Marcus Ewald / ama