TFA State 2024

2024 — Houston, TX/US

Judge Obligations and Information

Please read all of this

We strongly encourage schools to provide their own qualified judges for the tournament.

We would much rather have your judges than your money.


CX: 1 entry = 3 rounds of judging

LD: 1 entry = 3 rounds of judging

PF: 1 entry = 3 rounds of judging

WS: 1 entry = 3 rounds of judging

Speech: 1 entry = 2 rounds of judging

Congress: 1 judge for every 6 entries or portion thereof

Fees are $85/missing round or $500/judge

All schools with an entry in Congress, or WSD must provide at least one judge for that pool.

Judging fees will be assessed on Friday, February 24, 2023, at 11:55 pm. All schools will either need to provide a judge or request for the tournament to hire judges for them. If you know for sure that you will not be able to cover all of your judging, must hit the "request hired judging" button found under the 'judges' tab on your registration screen. Requesting hired judging lets us know that we for sure need to hire a judge for you and prevents us from having to scramble to add judges at the last minute.

We strongly recommend that you request hired judging as soon as you know that you will need the tournament to hire judges for you. Due to a variety of factors, TFA will be capping tournament hired judging at 100 judges. This means that once we have reached this limit, we will be declining hired judge requests and your school will be responsible for bringing judges to cover entries or those students will not be allowed to compete. Hired judge requests can be canceled up until the point that they are 'accepted' by the tournament; once a hired judge request is accepted by the tournament, it cannot be canceled and the school will be responsible for paying those fees.


If you put your judge in for 6 rounds and then leave comments in the notes section that they are only available from X to Y time on Thursdays only, I will be manually adjusting their obligation down to the number of rounds they can actually judge and charging the school the difference.


Likewise, for speech judges who are entered for 8 prelim rounds, this means you are obligated for all 6 prelims of main speech events (plus relevant elims) AS WELL AS both prelims of the consolation events (and relevant elims). If you put yourself or a judge in for 8 rounds in speech, you CANNOT put in specific times that you are not available because to put yourself in for 8 rounds means you are available the entire tournament.


Finally, a note on parent judges. We are certainly not under the impression that parents are universally unqualified to fairly and adequately adjudicate speech and debate rounds. Some parents judge nearly every weekend and are very familiar with the intricacies of various events they are judging--this paragraph is not about them:

This is the STATE TOURNAMENT. Please make sure that if you are entering parent judges in the tournament, you are providing parents that have HIGH familiarity with the event they are judging and judge FREQUENTLY throughout the year. It is not fair to students of other schools to get judged by parents with little to no experience with the event they are judging at the state meet. Ultimately, judges who are deemed to be lacking the minimum qualifications of judging state championship speech and debate rounds will be removed from the judge pool at the discretion of the tournament directors and missing judge fines will be added to the school's invoice to reflect the lack of judging provided. If you find yourself questioning "Does this apply to the judges I added?" There is likely a reason you're already asking that question.


We also believe that an important part of giving students a great state tournament experience rests on us providing the best possible judge pool for students. In order to accomplish this and have the best judge pool possible, all school-provided judges are required to be available for the first full elimination round past the elimination of their most successful competitor in the event that they are covering. This means that all judges are obligated through Saturday Morning. We owe it to the competitors to provide the most preferential judging possible for their elimination panels.

We will be again implementing the entourage rule for coaches, assistant coaches, and consultants. If you have a coach present at the tournament (whether a school employee, school hire, or private coach) they MUST be entered in the judge pool for at least a two round obligation. These judges will also be obligated through all relevant elimination debate rounds. The purpose of the entourage rule is to ensure that our judge pools are as deep and high-quality as possible, especially for doubles and triples which traditionally are the most difficult rounds to place judges. Schools that attempt to bypass or subvert this rule are at risk of having prefs taken away or being removed from the tournament altogether.

To be clear, when it says you owe "X many rounds of judging" that refers to how many prelim rounds are owed; all judges are obligated for the first full elimination round. For example, if a judge is entered in the pool for 3 rounds, that means they will get up to 3 prelim debates and still be responsible for all elimination rounds the school obligation extends to. Even if they judge all 3 prelim debates they were put in the pool for, they are still obligated to judge one (full) elimination round past the school's most successful competitor.

To ensure top-notch judging for all participants, we ask that schools provide qualified judging to cover their judging obligations. All debate judges provided must have a paradigm entered on The tournament reserves the right to deny an entry due to insufficiently qualified judging; this 100% includes any judge whose paradigm is some version of "I'm a parent judge, I don't know much about the event, go slow", "treat me like a lay judge", "this is my first time judging debate/speech".


Judge bonds have been increased to $500. We will be fining schools $100 for the first no-show offense and the full judge bond for the second no-show offense; subsequent offenses may result in increased fines, loss of prefs, or removal of entries from the tournament. Any judge who either doesn’t pick up a ballot or who is so late in picking up a ballot that we need to reassign it to another judge. We will attempt to call and locate missing judges before a substitution is made; however, it is ultimately up to each coach to ensure their judges are awake, aware, and ready to judge.

If a school judge no-shows for a third time, all of that school's entries may be removed from the tournament at the discretion of the tournament director.

In a world of online ballots, it is important that your judges’ tabroom information (email and phone number) are up to date and that they are frequently checking their phone/email to ensure they do not miss a ballot. It is the obligation of coaches to ensure this info is accurate, working, and turned on as well as to check pairings and ensure that their judges are prepared to judge. Any tech issues that arise should be communicated with the proper tabroom immediately; "phone wasn't charged" "internet not working" etc. are not legitimate excuses to skip a debate round. Schools that have judges who have such server technology problems (neighborhood power out, etc.) will be addressed on a case-by-case basis; the tournament reserves the right to request that a coach fill in and cover their obligation if a school-hired judge backs out at the last minute because of tech issues.


If you or any of your judges have prior conflicts (schools they attended, used to coach at, etc.) they MUST enter those conflicts AHEAD OF TIME in their tabroom account prior to being added to the tournament. To do so, they need to login, click on their email address, and look in the right-hand column under the header labeled "Judging"; there is a button that says "Standing Conflicts", click that button and enter any conflicts necessary.