Judges and Cell Phones

I was recently at a speech and debate tournament- almost 300 competitors, three days of competition, students from across the country gathered together to give their best. During each day of the competition I heard of situations involving  judges with cell phones. How could this be? During judge training judges are clearly asked to silence cell phones, not to text, or to take phone calls. Perhaps it is early in the competition season, and judges need to get back in the groove?! However, I thought I would give a friendly reminder that judges…

1. Should not have a cell phone out, even at the judges table. Put it away to be sure it’s not a distraction.

2. Should silence their cellphones. Turning your phone to silence is not the same as vibrate. Sometimes vibrations can still be heard – especially if the phone is left on a table. And the moment your cell phone starts to ring or vibrate is when the panic begins to get it to stop! If you are panicking to silence your phone, I’m not sure how you can be focused on a speech? And if your cell phone is going off, it’s likely distracting to the competitor, as well as fellow judges. If you don’t know how to silence your cell phone, you may need to turn it off completely.

3. Should not text during a round while judging. This seems like a no brainer… But it has been done! If you are taking the time to judge- sit back, listen, enjoy! It is very disrespectful to your fellow judges, as well as the speaker to – stop, open up your cell phone case, dial your code, find the person you want to text, text them, and hit send. Are you also going to wait for a response too? Or remember that you are sitting in front of a competitor, supposed to be judging a speech round!?

4. Should give the speaker your full attention. There is nothing more disheartening for a speaker to perform their speech to feel like their judge is uninterested. Perhaps one of the most important roles at the tournament is that of the judge. We value your time and the feedback. Please show the students you are watching that  you want to be there.

The next time you sign up to judge, or if you lead a club, you may want to remind your judges of these simple little steps to make them the best judge you can be. And remember, if you are on call, waiting for a phone call or text to come in, or have other responsibilities that would hinder your judging capabilities, it’s ok to pass up the opportunity. Thank you for judging!

As a side note, students, I highly suggest not brining your phone in the competition room with you. It too can be a distraction- whether it’s the outline of it in your pocket or it too accidentally goes off. Cell phones in the competition room are not a good idea.