Sunday, July 19, 2009

In memory of Ross Smith


Tonight I am just one among thousands who can't imagine intercollegiate debate, or a significant portion of our lives, without Ross Smith of Wake Forest University, who passed away unexpectedly. He was the love of the game, the craziness, the seriousness, the friendships, the late-night conversations, the unreasonably hard work, the joy of the win and the shrug of the loss.

Ross is to contemporary academic debate what Richard Rorty was to academic philosophy: master of a technique not loved by all, but personally respected by all, and a champion of the whole enterprise, appreciative and honest and above all in love with the intellectual endeavor. I don't know a single person--not a single person--among the thousands of people in the college (and much of the high school) debate community who had anything more than a bad joke to tell about him; not a single detractor, not a single person who would deny the positive difference he made in the lives of everyone he met. Rare? One of a kind.

Forgive the brief array of debate geekery as I imitate Ross talking about critical theory: "So...um...yeah. An alternative would be nice."

Miss you, sir.

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