Today is actually one of my long-awaited favorite days of the year. Why? Because I love the practice of rhetoric. The high school where I live held their annual speech and debate tournment today. I wish I had learned about debate when I was in high school, because I absolutely love it. I enjoy the rhetoric that goes along with the debate and trying to persuade the judge to go along with your way of thinking.
Several of my students working on their debate cases were invited to sit in on the LD finals today. None of them showed. I wished they would have. It would have been a good experience to use in their debates in class that start next week.
The Boss had volunteered to come and judge a couple of morning rounds. We get here and she had a round to immedeately go to. Strange. I thought I would have had a round first thing also. So I ended up down in the judges’ hospitality room. For a couple of hours writing. I also visited a little bit and ate some of the food down there.
My first round finally came at 10am this morning. I ended up having to wait for one of my participants until 20 minutes after the scheduled start of the round. Not good. Was I going to be able to make my next round I was scheduled for? In the mean time, I was talking to the other debater who was already there. He claimed that he had only been asked a week ago by his teacher to do debate. Not sure how much of that I really believe. However, he did mention something about having seven contentions in his case. I didn’t know which one he was talking about, but properply executed, seven contentions could be a killer.
Once the other person got there, we hit the ground running. He was a personable young man. I could tell he knew how to work a crowd. The other guy with the seven contentions? His lack of experience ended up showing through. He was the one who ended up dropping argument of his own contentions because he had so many. After the debate, they both asked for any advice outside of things that would give away the winner. I told the second debater (the one who was late) that he needed to work on his transition from paper to audience. Everytime he went down to the paper to read further, he would stumble. I explained to him that he needed to mentally read at least 3 sentences ahead so he wouldn’t stumble. Almost felt like I was coaching beginner TV news anchors again. Little did I know at that time, I’d get a chance to see how he improved later in the day.
The next debate caught me up on time. One of the debaters asked a question and a half during his cross-examination time. He then said one sentence during his first rebuttal and totally dropped his second rebuttal. Runaway victory for his opponent, who was merely average.
The next debate was a good strong debate. The next debate was even stronger. Nothing to point out from both of those debates. However, the second of that set saw some friends coming in that were told by a coach to follow their friend and listen to every debate. At the end, two of the girls were asleep. So I motioned to everyone awake to be quiet. Then, on three, we all made loud noises to wake them up. It was one of those “you had to be there” type of moments, but it was still great for a laugh.
So I’m back sitting in the judge hospitality room thinking I have awhile. I had been originally scheduled for a semi-final round in CX debate, but was told someone had been found to fill my position. I’m sitting there, enjoying a snack, and I get a ballot plopped down in front of me out of thin air.
“What is this?!?”
“Your CX round. It starts in about 5 minutes.”
“I was told I had been replaced on that round!”
Well, I hadn’t. So off I rushed to the room. I was asked about my preferences. I told the competitors that while I had judged CX before, I was more of an LD guy, so I appreciated any sparks or dramatics. So the first debater gets up, and I missed the first three minutes of what she said. She had to have been speaking at least 100 words per minute or faster. I barely relized towards the end of the first affirmative constructive speech that the resolution was written on the board. I don’t feel I caught everything I should have seeing as how I had been trained a decade ago how to properly judge CX, but I think I ended up doing ok. It helps that the negative side never argued something to negate the resolution. Their plan was a round about way still affirming the current resolution. That made a judgement easier for me.
After that round, we’re back to LD debate, this time with the finals. Contestant 1? The personable kid I saw in my first round that morning. Contestant 2? A girl that I wasn’t too entirely sure if she had originally done CX. She kept on trying to introduce cards to back up her debate. I never found out who won. I just know it was a split decision because I talked to one other judge after she had left the room and finished filling out her form and she voted for the the personable kid, but I voted for the CX girl because the other kid had just seemed off guard with her.
The surprise of the night? In the CX semi-final that was not the one that I judged, the eventual winner of that round thought they had lost. So they went ahead and left the competition. The winner out of my semi-final won by default.