When I was in high school my life was consumed by one thing, policy debate. I’m not quite sure where I would be if I had not decided to participate in debate. It shaped who I am today and I have recently learned that the activity that made me fall in love with philosophy and help me find the university I went to even is on the brink of being shut down. It hurts my soul. Debate was the most useful tool I ever had the pleasure of participating in. My analytical skills, ability to think on my feet, get over my shyness, become a better public speaker, better annunciation, strike fear in my classmates with my speed reading skills and ability to conceive an argument all happened because of debate. What exactly is policy debate? According to Wikipedia, Policy debate is a form of research-based speech competition in which teams of two advocate for and against a resolution that typically calls for policy change by the United States federal government. It is also referred to as cross-examination debate (sometimes shortened to Cross-X, CX, or C-X) because of the 3-minute questioning period following each constructive speech. Affirmative teams generally present a plan as a proposal for implementation of the resolution. The negative will generally prove that it would be better not to do the plan or that the opportunity costs to the plan are so great that it should not be implemented.
Another more fun explanation from the Urban Dictionary defines it as:
An obscure cult with its own distinct language understood only by members. The members speak incredibly quickly and think even faster. They tend to also be motivated students and often exhibit a mild form of OCD.
Such debaters engage in conversation with each other on a much higher level than the average human, both in and out of round. The student government and honor roll within a school typically consist mostly of debaters. 80% of congress debated in high school.
Membership in the cult lasts from 9th grade through 12th grade and sometimes through college, but the mannerisms and knowledge gained from it manifest themselves in all aspects of the current or former debater’s life for the better.
Policy debate kicks aff.
I spent all last weekend hitting people, cutting and spewing. We broke and all the judges picked me up, but this one lay judge dropped me. I also got top speaks. Now I’m going to do uniqueness updates for my disad, then cut some a2 perm cards on the counterplan and come up with a kritikal aff so I can win framework.
I finally mastered the pen flip!
Policy debate is SHITS (Significance, Harms, Inherency, Topicality, Solvency)
If you understood all the above, you’re a policy debater
The reason why I used the Urban Dictionary version is because that is exactly how debaters think and how we would describe it. It is like a cult simply because an outsider won’t understand it. The language involved alone is enough not to mention our sense of humor is a little off. That seems to be the problem with policy debate for some is that it is a little too exclusive. It is hard to convince kids to stick with it because of how much work it is but that is the best part. Also, kids get discouraged when they keep losing but it is not all about winning. There is joy in losing, though not easily seen in the moment. These loses prepare for future setbacks and heartbreaks believe me. After spending so much time working on a case and learning it in and out and losing a round or being the negative and running a kritik that you’ve worked so hard to create and understand to see it fail is painful. But you live and learn and revamp and perfect it, just as you would with anything else. I can’t see a better way to be prepared for life’s miseries (not to be negative or anything). If ever in my life I find something that I enjoyed half as much that prepared me for things in my future then I could not ask for me. Hopefully more people will realize its importance and fight for it to stay around. For those who were debaters, how has it shaped your life and do you think you would be where you are if you had not decided to participate in it?