Last Tuesday, on a frosty February evening, the cozy cafeteria of the book store "Bukvoed" (Vosstaniya Street) hosted participants of new season games organized by the St. Petersburg Debate Federation. The meeting had a friendly and informal atmosphere; it heralded another important event – the St. Petersburg major league debates project was launched.
In autumn 2011 the St. Petersburg Debate Federation together with Internet-channel TV Piter and the book store chain "Bukvoed" launched the co-project “Television debates”. Every fortnight students gathered in “Bukvoed” culture venue to discuss topical and urgent issues. Since the start of the year public games will have tournament status. In spring term 8 teams will compete to win St. Petersburg major league debates title.
The first game session of the season was organized in an unusual format. The former jurors replaced the students in the roles of debators. The topical question selected for the game was “Would this country turn to democracy if social networks replace television?” As always, the participants were divided into two groups: “government” and “opposition”. The group supporting social networks included experienced debater Madi Shakhrur and Aleksandr Malich, a famous “100 TV” channel presenter, who previously participated together in a game during the municipal festival “Den Pervokursnika” hosted by the Petersburg Sports and Concert Complex. The group supporting interests of television included Vlad Cyplukhin, the press-secretary no 1 and Alexander Cypkin, permanent president of the jury, PR-director of MegaFon North West.
The jury was made of students, experienced debaters, multiple winners of parliamentary debates tournaments and championships, participants of the major league debates (one representative of each team).
The main point of “government” team was the possibility to select and to be selected. For instance, Alexander Malich proposed to hold municipal meetings based on “likes”, while Cyplukhin rebuked that should “bad guys” own social networks, democracy shall never work for society, because of blocked communication channel. Madi Shakhrur emphasized that nowadays Internet is the main decision-making process, and Alexander Cypkin said that mass interactivity is impossible because it is impossible to control reliability of information, while television is a kind of filter, used to cut out superfluous details.
The game was both interesting and intense; it contained lots of pabulum for reflection. It is difficult to say, what point of view should be supported by one’s “like”, the point is, each opinion has a kernel of truth.
The game session was briefly commented on by guests, representatives of partners of the St. Petersburg Debate Federation who attended the event to support their colleagues and friends - Irina Kruzhilina of “Delovoy Peterburg” newspaper, Vladislav Petrovski of “Piter TV”, Svetlana Krutilnikova and Petr Nabutov of the law firm “S&K Vertikal”. Tatyana Plutalova of “Vkontakte”, Yulia Boycova and Darya Olshevskaya of Megafon came to root for the “opposition” team.
As the jury was busy rendering judgment, and recalled logic strings from the reasons and points presented by the teams, YYevgeny Sesyavin, president of the St. Petersburg Debate Federation and Darya Baranova, the head of major league debates project. They conducted a lot drawing to determine the order in which teams will participate in public games. One by one, slips of paper bearing each team’s name were taken out of a golden cup (the future prize). Representatives of teams to compete on the stage of “Bukvoed” were shaking hands and exchanged brief comments. The audience was pleased with extravagant names of the teams, such as “Cutwater Spikes”, “Speaking of Gender”, “Your Favorite Nightmare Creatures”. Debators never lack imagination.
Spectators were asked to “vote” for their favorite teams by giving them symbolical “like” tags available on the tables in the hall. Winner announcement ceremony was preceded by spectators voting procedure. The audience awarded victory to “opposition” team with their smart arguments and vivid examples. Judges, on the contrary, distributed their “likes” in a quite a different way: it was 5:3 for “government” team with their elaborated case.
Upon completion of the game, opponents shook hands, and cut the blue ceremonial ribbon, thereby marking a solemn start of the new gaming season. The project of major league debates had a promising outset, it will delight the audience with interesting topics, and debaters inspired to new ideas and verbal combats will deliver stunning performances!