When people think about debate they typically think about arguments. Although this is a large part of it, debate encompasses so much more. When you are in a tournament, you are competing against other schools and their teams.
When competing, you’re not only competing to get 1st place, you are also competing to get points which are recorded by the National Speech & Debate organization (NSDA). Based on these points, you are given a ranking starting with Merit up to Premier Distinction.
Debate involves several different events revolving around debate and speech. There are the more well-known events such as Lincoln Douglas, which is a one-on-one structured debate where you have to be prepared to argue either side of a given topic. A similar event is called Public Forum, which has the same structure but with a partner.
The lesser known debate events include Congress, Big Questions, Policy, Spar, and Character Spar. These events can often take from 20 minutes to 2 hours, where competitors must prepare a speech or argument on a variety of topics on the spot. Debate events typically take longer than speech events and will give you more points.
The most well-known speech event is Impromptu, which when the competitor is given 3 topics to choose from, and then has 7 minutes to write and present a speech on the topic they chose. Some other events are National Extemporaneous, Foreign Extemporaneous, Dramatic Interpretation, Humorous Interpretation, Dou Interpretation, Oratory, Informative, and Story Telling. These events usually require a time range of 30 minutes to 2 hours. Speech events usually earn you half as many points as debate events, but you can double enter, which means you can compete in two events per tournament.
Through debate, you can get a number of scholarships and opportunities, especially if you are high ranking. Many colleges look for students who have done really well in high school debate to be on their team.
With covid-19, debate is no longer in-person which can be seen as both good and bad. One positive is that students are able to compete in 2 live events and in as many events that can be pre-recorded as they want, which helps students raise their NDSA points. However, on the down-side, it is harder to persuade the judge, because you are no longer able to use body language to help convey your point.
All in all, debate is a lot of fun and can open up many doors in one’s life. Taking a class is not required to join the debate team. All you have to do is show up to practice on Mondays and Thursdays right after school until 4PM at the latest in room 2803. Everyone is welcome!