Saturday, February 16, 2013

Myths about Speech and Debate that Novices Believe- Stephen Roe and Brandon Banda

(Stephen and Brandon are two of my favorite Stoa alumni. They're hilarious. I'm sure you'll agree after reading this post. Want to write a guest post? Click here.)


#1 The judges laughed hysterically at your HI because they thought it was funny.

#2 Writing your speech the night before the tournament means you won't break.

#3 Memorizing your speech the minute before the round means you won't break. :)

#4 Giving a 15 minute speech means you won’t be ranked first.

#5 Having 3 apologetics cards means you have no chance of getting those questions in a round.

#6 You can't break with a script.

#7 If an interp is by Shakespeare, you automatically move up one rank.

#8 Expos is a great extra event to add the week before the tournament.

#9 Expos boards can't be made the night before the tournament.

#10 You have to give a speech word-for-word... Or else!

#11 In impromptu, it doesn't matter what you say as long as you talk for five minutes.

#12 If you are first in room, you have to show up right away.

#13 A judge has never given a speech on abortion lower than second place.

#14 Giving a good apologetics speech involves using as many scripture references as possible.

#15 During an impromptu speech, you should stuff the prompt in your pocket. You’ll remember it at the end of the speech.

#16 You should only say “I have three points” at the beginning of an impromptu if you actually have three points ready.

#17 If you are last in a room you don’t need to show up for a while.

#18 If an HI isn't very funny, or a DI isn't very dramatic, you should just move it to OI.

#19 Impromptu is a speech event where you try to come up with three related stories in two minutes.

#20 Extemp makes a perfect fifth speech event.

#21 Speech outlines are for noobs.

#22 Fifth & below is probably just a fifth.


#23 The judge will vote for you if you tell them you’re a novice at the beginning of the 1AR.

#24 Advanced debaters never lose to novices.

#25 Novices never beat advanced debaters in outrounds by a 3-0 decision.

#26 Good debaters spend hours rehearsing the delivery of their 1AC.

#27 Most debaters have active social lives completely unrelated to debate.

#28 The more debater terminology you use in a round, the smarter you sound!

#29 LD is just about speaker points. You don't need to prepare.

#30 The bigger the evidence box, the more intimidating you look.

#31 Debaters in the other league/state/region are pretty weird.

#32 Flowing is what judges do best.

#33 In TP, most judges expect you to run topicality.

#34 American flag pins subtly express the undying patriotism of your case.

#35 The "we reserve the right to clarify upon this plan in future speeches" clause means you can pretty much say whatever you want for the rest of the TP round.

#36 When a judge says the round was close, they are just saying that to make the losing team feel better.

#37 When you bring up a counter definition your opponent is doomed to accept it.


#38 Wearing a cartoon character tie aids your credibility.

#39 Food and sleep are necessary to survive a five day tournament. 

#40 Tab lounges around until about five minutes before breaks.

#41 The "cute factor" is a myth.

#42 Reading your ballots during the after party is a good idea.

#43 The judges will notice if you accidentally wear slippers or tennis shoes into a round.

#44 The timer is infallible.

#45 If you are last in a room you don’t need to show up for a while. 

#46 Spending 9 hours in the car with your family driving to a tournament will be a bonding experience.

#47 Finding buildings and rooms on a college campus is pretty easy

#48 Dress shoes and running shoes are fairly equal when it comes to walking.

#49 Ballots are the pinnacle of human achievements in penmanship.

#50 Matching suits will make you win in team events.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Falling in Love With Speech and Debate

I remember the first competition I visited. I remember the HIs and Duos I saw. One was about a king, and opened with the interper attempting to zip up his pants but having difficultly. One duo was about cats, and felt more like a neat choreographed dance at times, and another humorous speech was on The Importance of Being Earnest, which I've seen two or three times since by other people. I remember some not great HIs I won't tell you too much about, just that they made me think, "You know, I could do speeches like that. But, I would try to do it better." (yea, I'm competitive) And friends, I realized at that moment I had fallen in love with interps. Before I even knew what "interps" meant.

I remember the first LD round I ever saw, where the fellow arguing that competition was superior to cooperation as a means of achieving excellence used William Tell as an example, and his opponent insisted that William Tell did not exist but the other guy said that the people from his country thought he did and had statues of him and stuff. That round changed my life. I talked to my mom about it later (like, a lot), and she asked if I wanted to do LD, as if she already knew the answer was yes and guess what? It was. I really loved that round, too.

Have you ever had that? I mean, have you ever had a moment where you realized how much you loved this forensical activity of ours? Maybe it comes when you realize you're a geeky debater. Maybe it hits you when you begin to wonder what the heck you're going to do when you graduate, or begin drafting your judging philosophy. Maybe it was breaking for the first time, or not breaking, and noting how much that meant to you. Maybe it was when you realized you qualified for nationals, or when you said goodbye to your speech and debate buddies and knew you wouldn't see them again until the next tournament, or far-off club meeting after the summer. And then you were all like, whoa. I love speech and debate.

It's Valentine's Day, kids. As we all know, homeschooling leaves little possibility of friends or socialization, so of course we'd fall in love with our educational activities. What else?

But not just any educational activities. I mean, we're not completely crazy. We don't go around declaring our love for our math books, or any affection for those awkward science goggles your book says that you're supposed to wear for every. single. experiment, even the ones that literally involve drawing lines on paper and that's it, or any fondess for hours and hours of homework or research. Usually. Most of the time. But speech and debate is different.

It's a thing. It's our thing. And we love it. We put up with long lines at postings, peculiar arguments, scary peoplebizarre ballots, and more because, even when things aren't our favorite, the advantages of speech and debate totally outweigh any disads on a net beneficial scale, or with just about any criterion.

It's great to be a homeschooler on Valentine's day. I'm not saying that chocolate and flowers are better or worse than plastic trophies and certificates and metals and stuff. You can answer that question on your own (the answer is obviously permutation). It's just that while all of your friends complain about being single and/or post ridiculous lovey-dovey things on Facebook, you can just smile and shake your head at all the fun things they're missing out on as you cut another card to put on the brief, or finish up a new draft of your platform. Because that's definitely the reaction we all have.

You're homeschooled. I love that about you.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Becoming a Geeky Debater- Annabelle Tague

(Annabelle Tague is a fifteen year-old junior in highschool, who is rocking speech competitions in her second year and *spoiler alert* loves to debate too. She also loves drawing and her family, and has an amazing heart for Christ. Want to write a guest post? Click here.)

So....we’re all super excited about this year right? Well, I’m here cause I wanted to talk -- honestly and openly -- about the struggles of well, being a first year debater.

It all started before Concordia Debate Camp this summer, while I was frantically trying to complete my assignment (not to mention my brother’s assignment too -- he was out of town and wasn’t coming back till the day before we left). You see my brother is a second year debater, so even though I’m a noob, I got to debate in the Open track....and, you guessed it, do the Open homework -- for both of us! Woohoo. I was totally lost. After calling a debate friend (at 11:00 PM ::cringe::), I got my act together and finished up in time -- barely.

Anyway, that’s how my season started. I was definitely not a debater, and didn’t want to become a debater. FYI, my interpretation of the word “debater,” was based on my experience from last year: those weird people I pass in the hallway on the way to my IE events, talking at 100 MPH about...well whatever revenue generation policy it was they just hit, and the nineteen disadvantages they used to absolutely destroyed the poor AFF team, and it seemed like their sentences just wouldn’t stop because they’d never ever pause to take a breath because they really just needed to....yeah.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to step on anyone’s toes there. That’s just how I saw it all. I was a speecher, not a debater.

But fast forward a few months -- it’s February, and I’ve officially competed in a whopping four debate tournaments.

Huge confession: I loved them. I did. I definitely wasn’t one of those “weird debaters,” but I had fun.

So now I’m in the groove, right? Research....foreign’s all good. At club this week, I was told to write a general negative brief on cyber-war. Awesome! I started researching, going through the motions -- then there was that one piece of evidence that I really, really wanted. And I found it! Haha! I chucked an evil chuckle, looked at my sister and said, “Ha! I just found the perfect piece of solvency evidence for me general neg on cyber-warfare.” 

Then it hit me. Oh. No. I was a debater. I’d finally become one of those people I used to pass in the hallways. I had just completely violated Annabelle 3:16, “For Annabelle so loved speech, that she dare not become a geeky debater.”

I immediately consulted an experienced debater-friend, who replied, confirming my diagnosis. I am not longer a normal person. I am a nerdy, debate researcher.

How did it come to this? Is this how it happened to all the STOA debate legends? Probably. Oh well. But it’s fine, cause as much as I hate to admit it, it’s totally awesome.

You’re homeschool, and you know what I mean.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Having Strong Opinions on Topical Counterplans

I ran a counterplan once. I'm not really comfortable speaking about it. It didn't really end well. Let's just say I was forbidden from doing that ever again.

Now, I know what you're thinking:
Obviously, Chandler. You're in LD.

This is true. However: a) I wouldn't be the first LDer to run a CP and secondly, I was in TP once too. And I could justifiably put all of the blame for the way that round went on my partner anyway. So ha.

Counterplans are interesting. After I graduated from TP, I began to think more on them and soon developed strong opinions like the debate nerd I am, regarding subjects such as when counterplans should be run, under what circumstances, how destroyed the aff case has to be first, what the  plan can include, whether a blue or black pen should be used for the negative (the answer is blue), you know, that sort of thing. Also, I once told someone that I "passionately hated" a CP he was fond of running. Perhaps I exaggerated, but still. Oh, and it was the plan I strongly disliked, not him. That's a long story. Anyway, of course, there are aspects and types of counterplans that even I don't quite get. So I won't tell you about those. The fear is that one of us would have to be killed.

One area for discussion which, surprisingly, does make sense to me is the controvertible legitimacy of the topical counterplan. The question of such a plan has led to much dispute throughout the homeschool debate community. And sometimes the neg will run a plan that the aff technically could have run, so they get up and yell at them in the 2AC and everyone spends the rest of the round arguing about who can run what. It's a debate within a debate. Debateception.

Back when I stuck to strictly IEs, I developed a theory called the "It's The Negative's Job to Disagree With Everything the Affirmative Team Says" theory. Now I see that it's not always accurate, but it made it easy for me to decide which camp I fall into in this timeless dispute. And yet, there are naturally arguments to be made on both sides of the fence.

Some say the negative burden is to argue against the resolution, so topical CPs put two affirmative teams on the ballot and you may as well vote for the real one, while others proclaim that neg simply has to tell you why the aff's plan is bad, leaving room for all kinds of crazy arguments, topical CPs included. And everyone's passionate about stuff. Which makes sense if you've ever seen a final round of debate. Just think of the people who coach them, and imagine the same passion times at least 15-and-a-half. Got it? I've never actually heard anyone argue angrily in favor of or against topical counterplans, but can't you picture it happening? I mean, I've heard arguments for both sides from grown up people, but generally in inside voices. But that doesn't mean it hasn't happened. It probably has, and certainly could, and certainly does in actual rounds.

So you have to be careful should you wish to run a topical counterplan, because of people who don't like them. And it's hard to know for sure who thinks what. This is why I was once advised at a camp to ask judges about their opinions about such counterplans before the round should I ever run one. I never did, but you could. My fear was always hearing something like this:

Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely intentional.

At this point, don't run one. Just saying. It's not worth it. Unless it's finals and there are a bunch more judges who like them but I forgot to tell you. Then you probably should.

Fortunately, this never happened to me. Unfortunately, this probably has a lot to do with the fact that I never made it to TP outrounds. Thanks for bringing up that painful subject.

Well, that's basically all I have to say about that. Except that if you're ever Neg and I judge you in TP, please ask about my thoughts on counterplans in general. I'm cool with topicality (and also please no one get mad at me), but again, strong opinions and stuff. But of course, don't all debaters have strong opinions on everything?

You're homeschooled. Debaters gotta debate.