Apple Valley Minneapple Debate Tournament

2023 — Apple Valley, MN/US

A Note Concerning Novice LD

Dear colleagues,

A point of pride for the MinneApple is that we offer one of the only novice divisions to feature national competition anywhere in the country. We think the opportunity for our youngest students to compete against peers from across the country has the unique ability to inspire a love for debate from the start.

Unfortunately, the division has been consistently shrinking over the past decade. After consulting with colleagues as to why they're no longer sending novices, the most common reason is that their students cannot successfully compete unless they are prepared for arguments that are far too advanced for their experience level. Indeed, we often hear coaches say that preparing novices for the MinneApple negatively affects their students by throwing off the pacing of their curriculum, decreasing morale, and forming habits that are detrimental to success at most other novice tournaments. This is especially true of our local schools. Most Minnesota students have only debated for about 4 weeks by the MinneApple, and it does seem unreasonable for them to be ready to debate the full range of possible advanced arguments that exist in LD in such a short time.

So, in light of this feedback, we would love it if teams prepare novices with these problems in mind. In the spirit of sportsmanship, we strongly request that when preparing novices for the tournament, teams focus on fundamental debate skills and core stock arguments that first-semester students should reasonably be expected to deal with.

We understand there are legitimate disagreements about what novices should be learning and when. We are simply asking that you use your best judgment and attempt to be as reasonable as possible when preparing your students. In other words, please play (Minnesota) nice!

We will be including ballot instructions to this effect. Those instructions will say something similar to the following:

"In the novice division, debaters are expected to make arguments that are appropriate for their experience level. Judges should consider only arguments that, in their best judgment, are explained and packaged in a way that a first-semester novice could reasonably be expected to understand and effectively engage.”

If you feel debating on these terms would not be in the best interest of some or all of your first-year debaters, we respectfully ask that you enter those students in the JV or Varsity division.

Thank you,

The MinneApple Team