The Mission is not anti-competition.
The Mission is not pro-competition, either.
The Mission Statement doesn't have to be game-set-match, no. But I do think it is an important philosophical starting point. If the motivations of our body fail to match PSI's Mission, then either our motivation or the Mission is a mistake.
Granted, maybe "game-set-match" is too strong a position, but I'd still like to hear someone rebut the remarks of Scott and Simone. I just don't understand how people can claim it's for the good of the audience attending Finals WITHOUT SUPPORTING EVIDENCE after only two years (rule change was adopted before Finals 2009).
I saw St. Paul in prelims once, in semis and finals this year. I would argue that they were the strongest team all week, but the best I had seen from them was in their first preliminary bout (also their most competitive bout), closely followed by semis (where they netted TWO 30s). They were the best on finals stage, but their work in prelims was that much stronger IN MY OPINION. Hopefully Matthew and his team don't take any offense to this, because as I told him stage-side, I feel his team not only earned, but deserved to win based on their body of work. Like Denver in 2006.
I haven't felt that happened as much in recent National Poetry Slams... but then again, the points aren't the point, right? Right?
I can see St. Paul's trajectory toward the championship being a macrocosm of every slam poet's: You bring what you feel is your best work and then you start writing to the judges' preference because you desire to win. When I got over that, I continued writing and learning more about myself, as many slam poems are entrenched in identity. And after a year on the bench as SM and host of my venue, I finally got to compete. By the time the grand slam rolled around, I made my team with two of my strongest pieces still in my ever-deeper pocket. And that's just after two years of slamming. And I'm a nobody on the national scene. St. Paul's poets have been killing it for years and, with respect to the other 67 teams, arguably made the week competition more of a coronation, their first prelim excepted. I see it as a result of years of work, not just one week of competition.
Any working poet writes two or three indisputably great poems a year. If they slip and slide like I did these past two years, that number drops to one or two. If they don't write, they shouldn't be competing at NPS. I consider myself on the prolific side and do not hold poets to my quantity standard (and again, I'm a nobody). But if we're going to have iWPS, WOWPS and NPS, plus regionals and local slams, how can anyone argue against continuing to write, edit, rehearse and perform new work?
This is why I'm for no-repeat. Yes, let the poets use their current/recent/whatever poems throughout an iWPS/WOWPS/NPS cycle, which means I could understand hearing a poet doing the same solo piece at all three PSi events in a (few) given year(s), but please don't tell me someone who writes to such a high standard cannot produce enough work to get through a tournament.
In September, the tennis U.S. Open begins. To win the tournament, you have to win seven (7!) matches. Andy Roddick cannot beat Roger Federer. Suppose Roddick makes it to the finals against Federer. Do you think it would be fair for him to say, 'Hey, remember how I trounced that dude in the second round? I'd like to apply that performance to the finals. Now give me the trophy. Thank you.' Tiger Woods was defeated in the (fourth and) final round of the PGA Championship last week because he missed a bunch of putts. What if he could recall his first-round performance and be declared the winner?
In poetry slam, we rarely have to contend with weather (although this year, Austin Neo Soul did a bang-up job by not missing a beat when the lights went out at 10@2 during their heart-wrenching group piece about Army wives - I'm still in awe), but we do have four rounds of competition. Asking teams to prepare for three (or 3 1/2) rounds instead of all four is like putting training wheels on Lance Armstrong's bike. Why?
Sorry for all the sports analogies.