Blue Thunder Invitational
2022 — Belvidere, IL/US
Lincoln-Douglas Paradigm ListAll Paradigms: Show Hide
Please be respectful and courteous during the round. It is essential that you speak clearly and at an appropriate pace so that I can understand your every word. It is important to debate with solid evidence that flows through to the end. Make sure to follow the framework and address all contentions and subpoints as you defend and attack cases.
My paradigm is pretty simple (I like to think)
Framework is really important, I want to know why I should value the aff or neg world more. Always make sure to tie back to the resolution and that you are following/arguing it as well. Formal procedures, such as signposting, roadmapping, voter issues are also really important when I'm deciding speaker points. Speaking of speaker points, they will be based on procedural things, not based on any stuttering or anything that could happen while speaking (i get this is nerve racking). Winning a round will be dependent on arguments made throughout the round and if your framework shone through. Please remain respectful and kind to your opponent. I understand getting passionate in a heated argument, I've been there, but always remember that this is hypothetical and we should remain respectful. Lastly, I won't flow cross-ex or any new arguments made in the second rebuttal, if your opponent doesn't refute a contention or argument you made, please ask to flow it through.
Some tips: Always signpost, roadmap and give voters! Remain respectful and try to stay organized. Have fun and good luck!
McKendree University / Belleville East High School
I competed in parliamentary debate and individual events from 1996 to 2000 for McKendree University. After three years studying political science at Syracuse University, I returned to coach at McKendree (mostly NPDA, some LD and IEs) and have been doing so ever since. I have also coached debate at Belleville East (PF and LD) for the last year.
This is broken into four sections: #1 PF Specifics, #2 HS LD specifics, #3 NFA LD specifics, #4 NPDA / general thoughts.
#1 PF Specifics
Here are some helpful things for you to know about me in terms of judging HS PF (in no particular order):
1. I have researched and coached students on the current NSDA topic and am broadly familiar with the issue. (I also teach comparative politics, including a chapter on India.)
2. I will carefully flow the debate. This means it is important for you to carefully answer your opponents' arguments as well as extend arguments in rebuttals that you want me to evaluate. I will also flow the debate on three 'sheets' - the PRO case/answers, the CON case/answers, and the rebuttals (summaries/final foci).
3. I will not flow crossfire but I will still pay careful attention and view it as an important part of the debate.
4. I don't have any particular expectations about rate of delivery - faster, slower, etc. is fine.
5. If you have other questions, feel free to peruse my more extensive parli philosophy below or ask before the debate.
I look forward to judging you.
#2 HS LD Specifics
Here are some helpful things for you to know about me in terms of judging HS LD (in no particular order):
1. I have researched and coached students on the current NSDA topic and am broadly familiar with the issue.
2. I will carefully flow the debate. This means it is important for you to carefully answer your opponent's arguments as well as extend arguments in rebuttals that you want me to evaluate. I will flow the debate on three 'sheets' - framework, AFF case/answers, NEG case/answers.
3. I view the value/value criterion portion of the debate as framing the rest of the debate. When the framing part of the debate is not clear, I generally default to a utilitarian approach to evaluating the substance part of the debate.
4. I don't have any particular expectations about rate of delivery - faster, slower, etc. is fine.
5. If you have other questions, feel free to peruse my more extensive parli philosophy below or ask before the debate.
I look forward to judging you.
#3 NFA LD Specifics
Here are some helpful things for you to know about me in terms of judging NFA LD (in no particular order):
1. McKendree is competing primarily in NFA LD this year so I have done some research on this resolution.
2. During the debate, I will flow what's being said rather than read the speech docs. I will review speech docs between speeches and after the round.
3. While carded evidence is obviously important in this format, I also appreciated warranted analytic arguments - probably more than the average NFA LD judge.
4. Having not judged a lot of LD of recent, I'm unsure if I can flow the fastest of debates. If I cannot flow due to clarity or speed, I will indicate that's the case.
5. If you have other questions, feel free to peruse my more extensive parli philosophy below or ask before the debate.
#4 NPDA / General thoughts
Section 1: General Information
In a typical policy debate, I tend to evaluate arguments in a comparative advantage framework (rather than stock issues). I am unlikely to vote on inherency or purely defensive arguments.
On trichotomy, I tend to think the government has the right to run what type of case they want as long as they can defend that their interpretation is topical. While I don’t see a lot of good fact/value debates, I am open to people choosing to do so. I’m also okay with people turning fact or value resolutions into policy debates. For me, these sorts of arguments are always better handled as questions of topicality.
If there are new arguments in rebuttals, I will discount them, even if no point of order is raised. The rules permit you to raise POOs, but you should use them with discretion. If you’re calling multiple irrelevant POOs, I will probably not be pleased.
I’m not a fan of making warrantless assertions in the LOC/MG and then explaining/warranting them in the MO/PMR. I tend to give the PMR a good deal of latitude in answering these ‘new’ arguments and tend to protect the opposition from these ‘new’ PMR arguments.
Section 2: Specific Inquiries
Speaker points (what is your typical speaker point range or average speaker points given).
Typically, my range of speaker points is 27-29, unless something extraordinary happens (good or bad).
How do you approach critically framed arguments? Can affirmatives run critical arguments? Can critical arguments be “contradictory” with other negative positions?
I’m open to Ks but I probably have a higher threshold for voting for them than your average judge. I approach the K as a sort of ideological counterplan. As a result, it’s important to me that you have a clear, competitive, and solvent alternative. I think critical affirmatives are fine so long as they are topical. If they are not topical, it’s likely to be an uphill battle. As for whether Ks can contradict other arguments in the round, it depends on the context/nature of the K.
Performance based arguments…
Same as above.
Topicality. What do you require to vote on topicality? Is in-round abuse necessary? Do you require competing interpretations?
Having a specific abuse story is important to winning topicality, but not always necessary. A specific abuse story does not necessarily mean linking out of a position that’s run; it means identifying a particular argument that the affirmative excludes AND why that argument should be negative ground. I view topicality through a competing interpretations framework – I’m not sure what a reasonable interpretation is. On topicality, I have an ‘average’ threshold. I don’t vote on RVIs. On spec/non-T theory, I have a ‘high’ threshold. Unless it is seriously mishandled, I’m probably not going to vote on these types of arguments.
Counterplans -- PICs good or bad? Should opp identify the status of the counterplan? Perms -- textual competition ok? Functional competition?
All things being equal, I have tended to err negative in most CP theory debates (except for delay). I think CPs should be functionally competitive. Unless specified otherwise, I understand counterplans to be conditional. I don’t have a particularly strong position on the legitimacy of conditionality. I think advantage CPs are smart and underutilized.
In the absence of debaters' clearly won arguments to the contrary, what is the order of evaluation that you will use in coming to a decision (e.g. do procedural issues like topicality precede kritiks which in turn precede cost-benefit analysis of advantages/disadvantages, or do you use some other ordering?)?
All things being equal, I evaluate procedural issues first. After that, I evaluate everything through a comparative advantage framework.
How do you weight arguments when they are not explicitly weighed by the debaters or when weighting claims are diametrically opposed? How do you compare abstract impacts (i.e. "dehumanization") against concrete impacts (i.e. "one million deaths")?
I tend to prefer concrete impacts over abstract impacts absent a reason to do otherwise. If there are competing stories comparing impacts (and there probably should be), I accept the more warranted story. I also have a tendency to focus more heavily on probability than magnitude.
Paradigm = CLARITY!
- Especially in your opening arguments, make sure that I know exactly what your contentions are, values, etc. Clear quality of evidence over the quantity of evidence. I am not partial to spreading, but can keep up with it so long as you are clear on the arguments. Would rather you speed up talking about the evidence in your case and slow down when you are making the main claims of the arguments.
- Stress impact, impact, impact: Make sure the stress how the claims you are making affect people, the country, etc. Tell me what's at stake, what the consequences are of each argument.
- WEIGH your impacts! As a judge I am looking for weighted impacts throughout your case, and especially in your voters issues. What is the scope, the magnitude, the urgency...of your claims. etc
- .Sign Posting: This is an essential tool for me as a judge to follow your case. It doesn't matter how good your arguments are if I can't follow along.
- Prefer traditional LD style of debate. I do not prefer policy style debate, but can keep up and follow along so long as arguments are solid.
- Framework important to me, but not critical (and totally accept conceding a framework if it is not crucial).
I view debate first as an educational activity. My job as a judge is to be a blank slate; your job as a debater is to tell me how and why to vote and decide what the resolution/debate means to you. This includes not just topic analysis but also types of arguments and the rules of debate if you would like. If you do not provide me with voters and impacts I will use my own reasoning. I'm open all arguments but they need to be well explained. I spend most of my time in traditional LD/PF circuits.
My preference is for debates with a warranted, clearly explained analysis. I do not think tagline extensions or simply reading a card is an argument that will win you the debate. In the last speech, make it easy for me to vote for you by giving and clearly weighing voting issues- these are summaries of the debate, not simply repeating your contentions! You will have the most impact with me if you discuss magnitude, scope, etc. and also tell me why I look to your voting issues before your opponents. In terms of case debate, please consider how your two cases interact with each other to create more class; I find turns especially effective. I do listen closely during cross (even if I don't flow), so that is a place to make attacks, but if you want them to be fully considered please include them during your speeches.
My background- I debated policy in high school. I now coach public forum and LD for Homewood Flossmoor HS, a suburb south of Chicago. I am comfortable with a reasonable amount of spreading and will let you know if I cannot understand you.
Good luck and have fun!
Current head coach at Homewood-Flossmoor High School since 2014.
Policy Debater for 4 years in HS (Sandburg)
4 years of Policy in college (Augustana 1 year, NIU 3 years)
8 years assisting a team with Lincoln-Douglas and PF.
When it comes to LD, I am definitely more traditional even though I've spent a lot of time in policy. I don't believe there should be plans or disads. I think the idea of LD becoming 1 person policy is unfortunate. LD should be about negating or affirming the res, not plan creation. You should have a value and value criterion that is used to evaluate the round. I have judged LD often on the local circuit in IL. If you are a more progressive LD debater, you likely don't want me in the back of the room.
I'm ok with most things in PF except plans/disads/etc. This is not policy. I am not lenient when it comes to pulling cards. If you do not know where your evidence is, that is a problem.
IF YOU LISTEN TO NOTHING ELSE, PLEASE ENSURE THERE IS A CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN CARDS AND TAGS
I'm not going to fight to understand what you're saying. If you are unclear you will likely lose. I also feel like I shouldn't have to follow along on a speech doc to hear what your saying. Fast is fine, but it should be flowable without reading the docs. Otherwise....what's the point in reading it at all.
I am an advocate of resolution specific debate. We have a yearly resolution for a reason. I don't believe running arguments that stay the same year after year is educational. 2015 example: Your affirmative should have some connection to domestic surveillance.
Topicality – I like T. I think the problem with it is that not enough explanation occurs of the actual abuse the Neg faces and debaters fly through it so fast that it is impossible to catch each argument. I feel like there should be some legit abuse or at the very least major pot. abuse.
Theory - ugh. I know debate can't live without it so I'll say this.....I'm pretty lenient with multiple conditional arguments that aren't extremely ridiculous. I also find theory debates boring. Topic debate good.
Kritiks -- Most of the common K's are fine by me. I am not well read in K literature. I will not pretend to understand your K. If you fail to explain it well enough for me and at the end of the debate I don't understand it, I will not vote for it. I will likely tell you it's because I don't understand. I will not feel bad about it.
1. BE CLEAR. If you are fast but not clear, I am not flowing. You can go as fast as your mouth and lungs will let you, but if you are not clear it will most likely be detrimental to you. I will say clear twice. If you don't adjust I will probably stop flowing.
1A. Make sure there is a clear distinction between tags and cards
Be a good person.
-Signpost. Without signposting it can be difficult for your judge to know where you are in the round. Signposting makes the flow organized and clear for everyone in the round.
-No spreading. I will have difficulties understanding everything if you spread and if the information does not end up on my flow because you are spreading, I can't use it to judge the round.
-Please weigh. Explain to me why your arguments outweigh (don't just tell me that they outweigh) your opponent's arguments.
-At the end of the round please provide clear voting issues.
This is my second year coaching and judging debate. My background is in speech and Model UN. I feel that debate is a valuable learning experience and I enjoy hearing new contentions that make me view the world from a different perspective.
I am a flow judge so I appreciate teams that provide lots of evidence and include relevant impacts. In PF, I give a lot of weight to voting issues and mostly award speaking points based on that. I value truth over tech.
Respect your opponents; they help you become a better debater.
Please be mindful of the time limits. I stop flowing after your time is up.
Have fun! I'm looking forward to hearing your arguments :)
I have been coaching and judging debate for 7 years. I currently judge Congress, LD and PF, and I coach LD and Congress. I view debate as a communicative activity, so I do not tolerate spreading as it destroys the communicative value of the event.
LD: Framework should be a weighing mechanism or lens through which to view the round. I am fine with collapsing frameworks, winning under either framework, conceding framework, etc. as long as you show me how to weigh your case under that framework. I am willing to entertain any type of argument (excluding any hateful rhetoric) but it must be well-executed and defended for me to buy it. Impacts are important. Weigh and crystalize in your voters. The less thinking I have to do about the round, the better :)
TLDR (updated 11/4/22)
- Speed is fine, you won't go too fast
- Win the flow=win the round
- Presumption =neg
- Theory is cool, run it well (Interp, violation, standards and voters. RVI's have higher burden)
- K debate is even better
- Defense needs to be extended
- I default to magnitude/strength of link weighing
- You can run any and all args you want, but they cannot be problematic/discriminatory/ attack your opponents. This will be an auto 20 speaks and L.
My debate experience:
Current assistant PF coach at Trinity Prep
3 Years of NFA-LD Debate
4 Years of Public Forum debate
It should be pretty easy to win my ballot. In my opinion, debate is a game, and you should play to win. Here are the specific things most debaters would want to know.
- I am cool with speed, so long as you don't use it to push your opponents out of a round. I will call clear if you become hard to understand, so keep that in mind.
- I will evaluate all types of arguments equally unless told otherwise.
- I am willing to listen to things like K's and theory arguments, so long as they are impacted out in the round.
- I really enjoy framework debates as well. I think these can be particularly beneficial for limiting the ground your opponents have in the round.
- I am tech over truth, which means so long as it is on my flow, I will evaluate the argument regardless of my own feelings on it. I will also not flow arguments through ink on the flow, so be sure to engage with your opponents answers in order to win the link level of your argument.
- Summary and FF should be somewhat consistent in terms of the direction they are going. Inconsistencies between these speeches will be harmful, especially when it comes to evaluating the strengths of your links and impacts
- On that same note, I want to see some sort of collapse in the second half of the debate- going for everything is typically a bad strategy, and I want to reward smart strategic choices that you make.
- I default to a net benefits impact calc, unless given a competing way to view the round. I am cool viewing the round through any lens that you give me, so long as you explain why its the best way for me to evaluate the round. If absent, I have to intervene with my own, which is something I hate to do.
- If you want me to call for cards, you need to ask me to do so. In that same regard, I wont intervene unless you leave me no other option.
- I dont flow CX, so if you want me to hold something that was said as binding, you need to bring it up in all of the subsequent speeches.
-Speaker points, in my opinion, are less about your speaking performance and more about your ability to present and explain compelling arguments, interact with the opposition, and provide meaningful analysis as to why you are necessarily more important. Content above style
-On a more personal note, I want the rounds that I judge to be educational and allow debaters to articulate arguments about real world issues, all of which deserve respect regardless of your own personal opinions. I have seen my partners and teammates experience sexism, racism, and other types of discrimination, and I have absolutely zero tolerance for it when I am judging.
- If you have any other questions about my paradigm, please feel free to ask me. I also will give feedback after rounds, you just have to find me and ask.
I am a first year judge so rate of speech is important for me to flow your arguments. Framework and voter issues are usually where I make my decisions.
I am a traditional Lincoln-Douglas judge and have been judging / debating since the early 2000s.
Value (V) & Value Criterion (VC) Debate:
The decision-maker & breaker is based on whichever side BEST upholds their Value / Value criterion. Essentially, the winning debater will be able to showcase that in his/her world his/her value is superior and is better upheld. It is always beneficial to attack the logic of the other side's Value / Value Criterion to demonstrate this. For example, say the affirmative has a value of Justice and a value criterion of Equality. A successful attack on the logic here would be to show how Equality and Justice are in conflict such as if we set hiring quotas, affirmative action, etc. (everything will be equal but it is not always fair). Of course, bringing this up in the context of the resolution will bolster the argument (for example, if we are not debating affirmative action). Logic and reasoning hold a lot of weight and can substitute for traditional evidence (statistics, studies, quotes, etc.)
Value criterions are there as such: a weighing mechanism. This is often lost / falls on deaf ears amongst debaters. A weighing mechanism is just that -- a method to determine what is the best determinant for a specific value. Let use this crude example illustrate that. Say we are debating what makes a great UFC fighter. In an LD context, our Values are "Successful MMA Fighter." Well, what determines their success? Is it heart? Is it experience? Is it youth? Speed? Strength? Striking? Wrestling? Resilience? Whichever criterion you think best allows for a successful UFC fighter should be the "VC" in this example.
Burdens and Case Logic:
The affirmative has the Burden of Proof during the round. This means, they must prove the resolution valid beyond a reasonable doubt. Similar to a criminal case, it is the prosecution job to prove the defendant is guilty. It is not the defendant's responsibility to prove his innocent, he simply has to prove that he is not guilty. This applies to the negative as well, he does not have to prove the inverse of the resolution. Please ask me for clarification on this point if you wish.
The negative the burden of initiating clash during the round. I would prefer that AT LEAST SOMETHING is said for each of the contentions and sub-points, even if you are running out of time. It can be something minor.
That being said, just because someone misses a contention doesn't mean that it can make or break a debate. The debater must demonstrate WHY that particular contention matters. Of course, the other extreme is not appropriate either (i.e., a particular side fails to attack anything or misses major parts of the case but has a strong case of their own).
In addition, I like when the contentions relate in someway to the value and value criterion. It clarifies the logic in the case and in general makes it easier for the side to argue their Value/VC.
The Negative's case can be flawed yet still win if the attacks on the affirmative are strong enough. Conversely, the negative can have a much better case than the Affirmative but if it never initiates clash, then I will defer to the affirmative (this hasn't been a problem).
Evidence is great, but evidence is not an argument. Debaters need to explain how/why that piece of evidence matters and relates to their argument. In addition, debaters need to explain the source and why this person's opinion matters. Just throwing "cards" at me, will not sway my decision.
In some ways, I prefer philosophical and logical discussions based on axioms and syllogisms. Stat-bombing me with studies and "cards" are not a substitute for solid argumentation and logical analysis. This may be controversial to some of you. But should we dismiss the arguments of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle simply because they didn't have peer-reviewed studies which fit a certain criteria?
I am a traditional LD debate judge, have been doing this for 20+ years. I generally dislike when you concede frameworks it shows a lack of analysis into the values and criterions themselves and kind of comes off as lazy.
Speaking can be a little quick but if you speak too fast and I miss contentions/sub-points it will negatively affect you (i.e., spreading).
Obviously, sign-posting is a must.
Cross-ex needs to be used strategically. It only matters if you refer back to it in a subsequent speech.
Clear, specific and unique arguments for each contention that are powerful and sub-point is superior. Repeating the same argument over and over again is not a strong strategy for success. Quality over quantity.
Voting issues are best at the end and it helps when the debater provides a clear reason why I should vote for a particular side.
I am a Debate Coach at McKendree University. We compete primarily in the NPDA and NFA-LD formats of debate. We also host and assist with local high school teams, who focus on NSDA-LD and PF.
I have sections dedicated to each format of debate I typically judge and you should read those if you have time. If you don’t have time, read the TLDR and ask your specific questions before the round. If you do a format of debate I don’t have a section for, read as much as you can and ask as many questions as you want before the round.
My goal as a judge is to adapt to the round that debaters have. I do not expect debaters to adapt to me. Instead, I want you to do what you want to do. I try to be a judge that debaters can use as a sounding board for new arguments or different arguments. I feel capable judging pretty much any kind of debate and I’ll always do my best to render a fair decision that is representative of the arguments I’ve seen in the round. If I am on a panel, feel free to adapt to other judges. I understand that you need to win the majority, not just me, and I’m never going to punish you for that. Do what wins the panel and I’ll come along for the ride.
I view debate as a game. But I believe games are an important part of our lives and they have real impacts on the people who play them and the contexts they are played in. Games also reflect our world and relationships to it. Debate is not a pro sport. It is not all about winning. Your round should be fun, educational, and equitable for everyone involved. My favorite thing to see in a debate round is people who are passionate about their positions. If you play hard and do your best, I'm going to appreciate you for that.
The quick hits of things I believe that you might want to know before the round:
1. Specificity wins. Most of the time, the debater with the more well-articulated position wins the debate. Get into the details and make comparisons.
2. I like debaters who seek out clash instead of trying to avoid it. Do the hard work and you will be rewarded.
3. I assume negative advocacies are conditional unless stated otherwise. I think conditionally is good. Anything more than two advocacies is probably too much. Two is almost always fine. One conditional advocacy is not at all objectionable to me. Format specific notes below.
4. I love topicality debates. I tend to dislike 1NC theory other than topicality and framework. 2AC theory doesn’t appeal to me most of the time, but it is an important check against negative flex, so use it as needed.
5. I don’t exclude impact weighing based on sequencing. Sequencing arguments are often a good reason to preference a type of impact, but not to exclude other impacts, so make sure to account for the impacts you attempt to frame out.
6. I will vote on presumption. Debate is an asymmetrical game, and the negative does not have to win offense to win the round. However, I want negative debaters to articulate their presumption triggers for me, not assume I will do the work for them.
7. I think timeframe and probability are more important than magnitude, but no one ever does the work, so I end up voting for extinction impacts because that feels least interventionist.
8. Give your opponents’ arguments the benefit of the doubt. They’re probably better than you give them credit for and underestimating them will hurt your own chances of winning.
9. Debates should be accessible. If your opponent (or a judge) asks you to slow down, slow down. Be able to explain your arguments. Be kind. Debate should be a fun learning experience for everyone.
10. In evidence formats, you should be prepared to share that evidence with everyone during the round via speechdrop, email chain, or flash drive.
11. All debate is performative. How you choose to perform matters and is part of the arguments you make. That often doesn’t come up, but it can. Don’t say hateful things or be rude. I will dock speaker points accordingly.
This philosophy is very expansive. That is because I want you to be able to adapt to me as much as you want to adapt. To be totally honest, you can probably just debate how you want and it will be fine – I really do want you to do you in rounds. But I also want you to know who I am and how I think about debate so that you can convince me.
Everything is up for debate. For every position I hold about debate, it seems someone has found a corner case. I try to be clear and to stick to my philosophy’s guidelines as much as possible as a judge. Sometimes, a debater changes how I see debate. Those debaters get very good speaker points. (Speaking of which, my speaker points center around a 28.1 as the average, using tenth points whenever possible).
I flow on a laptop most of the time now. Flowing on paper hurts my hand in faster rounds. If I’m flowing on paper for some reason, I might ask you to slow down so that I can flow the debate more accurately. If I don’t ask you to slow down, you’re fine – don’t worry about it. I don’t number arguments as I flow, so don’t expect me to know what your 2b point was without briefly referencing the argument. You should be doing this as part of your extensions anyway.
One specific note about my flowing that I have found impacts my decisions compared to other judges on panels is that I do not believe the “pages” of a debate are separate. I view rounds holistically and the flow as a representation of the whole. If arguments on separate pages interact with each other, I do not need explicit cross-applications to understand that. For instance, “MAD checks” on one page of the debate answers generic nuke war on every page of the debate. That work should ideally be done by debaters, but it has come up in RFDs in the past, so I feel required to mention it.
In theory debates, I’ve noticed some judges want a counter-interpretation regardless of the rest of the answers. If the strategy in answering theory is impact turns, I do not see a need for a counter-interp most of the time. In a pure, condo bad v condo good debate, for instance, my presumption is condo, so the negative can just read impact turns and impact defense and win against a “no condo” interp. Basically, if the aff says “you can’t do that because it is bad” and the neg says “it is not bad and, in fact, is good” I do not think the neg should have to say “yes, I can do that” (because they already did it). The counter-interp can still help in these debates, as you can use it to frame out some offense, by creating a lower threshold that you still meet (think “some condo” interps instead of “all condo”).
I look to texts of interps over spirit of interps. I have rarely seen spirit of the interp clarified in the 1NC and it is often used to pivot the interp away from aff answers or to cover for a bad text. If you contextualize your interp early and then stick to that, that is fine. But don’t use spirit of the interp to dodge the 2AC answers.
I start the round with the assumption that theory is a prior question to other evaluations. I will weigh theory then substance unless someone wins an argument to the contrary. Critical affs do not preclude theory in my mind unless a debater wins a compelling reason that it should. I default to evaluating critical arguments in the same layer as the rest of the substantive debate. I am compelled by arguments that procedural issues are a question of judging process (that non-topical affs skew my evaluation of the substance debate or multi-condo skews the speech that answers it, for instance). I am unlikely to let affirmative teams weigh their aff against theory objections to that aff without some good justifications for that.
A topicality interpretation should allow some aff ground. If there is not a topical aff and the aff team points that out, I'm unlikely to vote neg on T. That means you should read a TVA if you’re neg (do this anyway). I am open to sketchier T interps if they make sense. For instance, if you say that a phrase in the res means the aff must be effectually topical, I can see myself voting for this argument. Keep in mind, however, that these arguments run the risk of your opponent answering them well and you gaining nothing.
I’m going to start with the biggest change in my NPDA philosophy. Debates need to slow down. I still think speed is good. If all the debaters are fine with speed, I still like fast debate and want to see throwdowns at top speed. However, analytics with no speech docs are brutal to flow. Too many warrants get dropped. While we have laundry lists of arguments, they are often not dealt with in depth because they’re just hard to keep track of and account for. Our best NPDA debaters could debate at about 80% of their top speeds and maintain argumentative depth through improved efficiency and increased focus on the core issues of rounds, while still making the complex and nuanced arguments we want and getting more of them on each other’s flows and into each other’s speeches. Seek out clash!
On trichotomy (not tetrachotomy):
There is no such thing as a metaphor topic. Some topics are metaphors, yes. Those topics require a weighing mechanism which is either a fact, value, or policy framework. You might say to yourself “But Brent, I have to interpret the topic and define it, so it is clearly a ‘metaphor topic.’” To which I would respond, “And how you interpret it informs how you defend it, so while the topic is a metaphor, it is not a ‘metaphor topic.’” Here’s what you do with that information: Interpret and define the topic. Then, based on that interpretation, determine fact, value, or policy. Read the appropriate weighing mechanism and write your aff. **You might want to read the NSDA-LD section for my thoughts on value topics.**
NPDA is a strange beast. Without carded evidence, uniqueness debates and author says X/no they say Y can be messy. That just means you need to explain a way you want me to evaluate them and, ultimately, why I should believe your interpretation of that author’s position or the argument you’ve made. In yes/no uniqueness questions, explain why you believe yes, not just that someone else does. That means explaining the study or the article reasoning that you’re leaning on and applying it to the specifics of the debate. Sometimes it just means you need an “even if” argument to hedge your bets if you lose those issues. I try to let these things be resolved in round, but sometimes I have to make a judgment call and I’ll do my best to refer only to my flow when that happens. But remember, the evidence alone doesn’t win evidence debates – the warrants and reasoning do the heavy lifting.
Arguments in parliamentary debate require more reasoning and support because there is no printed evidence available to rely on. That means you should not just yoink the taglines out of a file someone open-sourced. You should explain the arguments as they are explained in the texts those files are cut from. Use your own words to make the novel connections to the rounds we’re in and the topics we discuss. This is a beautiful thing when it happens, and those rounds show the promise that parli has as a productive academic endeavor. We don’t just rely on someone else saying it – we can make our own arguments and apply what others have said to new scenarios. So, let’s do that!
Affirmative teams must affirm the resolution. How you do that is up to you. The resolution should be a springboard for many conversations, but criticizing the res is not a reason to vote affirmative. You can read policy affs, value affs, performance affs, critical affs, and any other aff you can think of as long as it affirms the res. Affs should include an interpretation of the resolution and a weighing mechanism to determine if you’ve met this burden. That is not often necessary in policy affs (because it happens contextually), but sometimes it helps to clarify. I am not asking the aff to roleplay as oppressors or to abdicate their power to pose questions. Instead, I want the aff team to reframe questions if necessary and to contextualize their offense to the resolution.
Negative teams must answer the affirmative. How you do that is up to you. You should make sure I know what your objections to the aff strategy are and why they are voting issues. That can be T, DAs, Ks, performances, whatever (except spec*). I vote on presumption more than most judges in NPDA. The aff must win offense and affs don’t always do that. I think “risk of solvency” only applies if I know what I’m risking. I must be able to understand and explain what an aff does on my ballot to run that “risk” on their behalf. With all that said, articulate presumption triggers for me. When you extend defense in the MO, explain “that’s a presumption trigger because…”.
I can buy arguments that presumption flips aff in counter-advocacy debates, but I don’t see that contextualized well and is often just a “risk of solvency” type claim in the PMR. This argument is most compelling to me in PIC debates, since the aff often gets less (or none) of their 1AC offense to leverage. Absent a specific contextualization about why presumption flips aff in this round (bigger change, PIC, etc.), I tend to err neg on this question, though it rarely comes up.
*On spec: Spec shells must include a clear brightline for a ‘we meet’ – so ‘aff must specify the branch (judicial, legislative, executive)’ is fine. Spec shells often only serve to protect weak link arguments (which should be improved, rather than shielded by spec) or to create time tradeoffs. They are sometimes useful and good arguments, but that scenario is rare. In the few cases where spec is necessary, ask a question in flex. If that doesn’t work, read spec.
Condo: 1 K, 1 CP, and the squo is fine to me. Two Ks is a mess. Two CPs just muddles the case debate and is worse in NPDA because we lack backside rebuttals. Contradictory positions are fine with me (procedurally, at least). MGs should think ahead more and force bad collapses in these debates. Kicking the alt doesn’t necessarily make offense on the link/impact of a K go away (though it often does). I am open to judge kicking if the neg describes and justifies an exact set of parameters under which I judge kick. I reserve the right to not judge kick based on my own perception of these arguments. So probably don’t try to get me to judge kick, honestly.
I don't think reasonability (as it is frequently explained) is a good weighing mechanism for parli debates. It seems absurd that I should be concerned about the outcomes of future debates with this topic when there will be none or very few and far between. At topic area tournaments, I am more likely to vote on specific topicality. That does not mean that you can't be untopical, it just means you need good answers. Reasonability makes more sense to me at a tournament that repeats resolutions (like NPTE).
I tend to think disclosure of affs (once you’ve read them) is good and almost necessary and that disclosure of negs is very kind, but not necessary. The more generic a neg position is, the more likely I am to want it disclosed, but I’ll never expect it to be disclosed. I won’t take a strong position on any of this – disclose what you want to disclose (or don’t disclose at all) and defend that practice if necessary.
Affirmatives should stake out specific ground in the 1AC and defend it throughout the round. I don’t care how you do this, whether it is a plan, an advocacy, a performance is up to you. I think that topical plan debate is often the easiest to access, but I don’t believe that makes it the only accessible form of debate or the only good form of debate. So, read the aff you want to read, but be prepared to defend it. Affirmative debaters can (and sometimes should) kick their advantage offense to go for offense on a neg position. I don’t see this enough and I really wish it was more common in plan debates, especially.
Negatives should answer the aff. How you answer the aff is your business, but I like specific links for negative arguments. On case, I love a good impact turn, but I’ll settle for any offense. In terms of DA choice, I think you benefit from reading high magnitude impacts most of the time, because the aff likely outweighs systemic DAs or has systemic impacts of its own.
For criticisms, I just want to understand what is happening. Most of the time that’s not a problem, but don’t assume I’ve read your lit or understand the jargon. I would prefer if you can articulate your criticism in accessible language in CX. I tend to prefer a K with a material impact, but I can vote for impacts that are less material if they’re explained well and interact with the aff impact in a meaningful way.
Negative procedurals should be limited to topicality if possible. T isn’t a voting issue because of “rules”. It’s a voting issue because of how it impacts debates. I default to competing interps and don’t usually hear a good justification (or even definition) for reasonability. I will still weigh based on reasonability if it is explained and won.
Spec, speed bad, and norm-setting arguments (like disclosure) generally don’t appeal to me. I understand their importance in some strategies and sometimes they are required. If someone refuses to slow down, I understand the need to say speed is bad. But I don’t care about rules, I care about how people are being treated – so make speed debates be about that. Spec and norm-setting arguments should be about the impact on research practices, education, and fairness in rounds.
2AC/1AR theory is not my favorite. I want debates to be about the aff case and when the affirmative debater decides to introduce additional issues, that often takes away from discussion of the aff itself. I know sometimes people go too far, and you have to read condo or delay bad or whatever. That’s fine. But use your best judgement to avoid reading theory in unnecessary situations and when you do have to read theory, keep the debate about the aff if possible.
I expect clear interpretations and voting issues for theory shells. I’ve noticed that this is not always the case in the NFA-LD theory debates I’ve seen, and teams would benefit from a specific statement of what should and/or should not be allowed.
Negative debaters should prioritize impact framing and delineate a path to the ballot for themselves. I have seen quite a few debates where the NR gets bogged down in the line-by-line and the aff wins by virtue of contextualizing arguments just a bit. In your NRs and 2ARs, I’d like to see more comparative analysis and focus on what my ballot should say, rather than exclusively line-by-line. You still need to answer and account for arguments in the line-by-line, but absent a clear “mission statement” for your speech paired with necessary analysis, it is hard to vote for you. Aff debaters can’t go all big picture in the 2AR. You have to deal with the line-by-line. I can’t ignore the NR and let you give a 3-minute overview. Get short and sweet with your overview. Clarify your path to ballot and then execute that strategy on the flow.
I’ve heard many things referred to as “cards” that are not cards. A card needs to be a direct quotation, read in part (marked by underlining and highlighting) with a citation and a tagline that explains that argument. Present it in this order: Tagline, Author/Year, Evidence. Referencing a study or article is not a “card.”
You should be reading cards in debates. And you should be prepared to share those cards with your opponents. If you’d like help learning how to cut evidence into cards and how to share those cards quickly with your opponents and judges, I’ll gladly walk you through the process – but there are many resources available to you outside of me so seek them out.
Seek out clash. Don’t say “my partner will present that later” or dodge questions. Find the debate and go to it. We’re here to answer each other’s arguments and learn from the process, so let’s do that.
Time yourselves and each other – you should keep track of your prep time and your opponent’s prep time and time every speech in the debate. This is a good habit that you need to build.
Values and value criterions are a weighing mechanism for evaluation of arguments. Winning the value debate matters because it changes how I view impacts in the round and prioritize them. I understand the idea of “upholding a value” as the end goal of an LD round, and I can buy into that as a way to win a round, too. However, if that’s what you do, I probably won’t vote for impacts outside of that framework. You should choose between (1) upholding a value as a virtue or good in itself or (2) winning impacts that you will frame using your value/criterion. Both are valid, but I am inclined toward the impact style (option 2) by default.
I tend to think of LD debates in four parts: Definitions, Value, Aff Contentions, and Neg Contentions. I think it makes sense to flow LD on three sheets: One for definitions and values, one for aff contentions, and one for neg contentions. That makes the clash in definitions and aff/neg value easier to isolate and prevents a lot of strange and usually unnecessary cross-applications. Thinking of negative values as “Counter Values” that answer the aff value makes a lot more sense to me. You don’t have to do this in your round or on your flow, but it should help you conceptualize how I think about these debates.
I have not judged many plan-focused rounds in NSDA-LD, but I’m open to that if that is your style or you want to experiment. If you do this, I’ll flow top of aff, advantages, and neg positions on separate sheets like I would in a policy debate, and you can ignore the stuff about values above.
I am open to the less traditional arguments available to you. I love to see the unique ways you can affirm or negate using different literature bases than just the core social contract and ethics grab-bag.
I don’t have a ton of specific notes for PF. Check out the general section for NSDA and feel free to ask questions.
I like when the aff team speaks first. It makes debates cleaner and encourages negative responsiveness to the aff. You don’t have to choose first if you’re aff and like speaking second. But keep it in mind and do what you will with that information.
I don’t flow crossfires. I pay attention, but you need to bring up relevant crossfire moments in your speech and explain why they matter for me vote for them or include them in my decisions.
-Make sure you're addressing your framework in all of your speeches--both supporting your framework and weighing your impacts through your framework
-Roadmaps are appreciated--if I don't know which contention/card you're addressing, it's difficult to flow it through
-Hateful arguments are not tolerated (sexism, racism, etc.)
-Voting issues are really important to me--don't forget them in your last speech!
Overall, just have fun with the round! This is my 4th year debating in LD and my second year as an LD captain, so feel free to ask me beforehand if you have any further questions about how a round works or about my paradigm. I'm looking forward to judging your round :)
2023 IHSA LD Notes (SCOTUS):
Keep in mind that your judges will have been judging for a LONG time. If you have any unique, new, fresh arguments, pulling them out in later rounds would be a great way to keep me engaged in your arguments.
2nd thing to keep in mind: the SCOTUS topic has real world implications and applications. Of course you need logic & stats for your argument, but don't forget about real-world examples in the NOW. The SCOTUS is a huge topic of debate IRL- use that to your advantage! Using examples, case studies, specifics about certain judges, etc. can also help you to give your arguments some concrete backing to the more theoretical arguments.
Hello! I am an English teacher and a debate coach, and I judge both PF and LD. First and foremost, I want everyone to have a good experience during your round!
LD & PF
In both divisions, my #1 priority is this: argue respectfully! If you are rude to your opponents or exceedingly arrogant in your speeches, it will result in a loss of speaker points.
2nd- make my life as a judge easy. Tell me what to do! They dropped your 2nd subpoint? Tell me! Want me to flow something through? Tell me! You're the experts here, and I'm just trying to keep up. Don't assume that I'll catch everything that you catch in a round :)
I value clarity over speed. Obviously sometimes speed is necessary to ensure your speeches will fit in the time limit, but if I miss a tagline or a name of a card, it's only to your detriment!
2nd point on clarity-- remember that while you have spent a lot of time and effort researching your topics, your judges have not. Before you make your more intricate or unique arguments, spend some time in your FW or contentions explaining the basics or the fundamentals of your case!
I appreciate a nice, well-organized, line-by-line rebuttal!!! Attacking your opponent's cases in order is a huge help to me for flowing.
While it doesn't weigh much on my decision of who WON the round, I do also appreciate when a speaker uses inflection and proper emphasis in your speeches. Be convinced of your case and convince me to believe in it! I love a good stylistic speech. Keep me engaged!
In general, I listen attentively and may write a few notes of good points brought up during CX, but I would prefer anything from CX to be flowed to your later speeches.
IMPACTS. Impacts! You can have all the cards you want in the world, but you need to be able to explain them and explain the impacts of your cards on your case. Again, I'm an English teacher, and I consider your impacts/explanation of cards to be just like your analysis of quotes in an essay. Without it, the essay falls apart!
I do prefer clearly listed voter's issues and weighing mechanisms, but not including weighing mechanisms won't necessarily cost you the round.
If you have any questions, just ask! Thank you and good luck! ????
I am lazy and stupid. Please treat me as such. Tell me exactly where to flow, how to weigh, and why you won this round. I am a coach, but I am not a former debater. So if you would like to run ks, plans, theory or whatever, you can. However, you need to break it down to a fairly basic level, and they should be used to enhance the debate space, not to limit it. I'm fine with speed as long as you enunciate. If I am not getting what you are saying, I'll make a face like :/.
I judge a lot, and I hear the same thing over and over so many times. If you have a non-stock case, I'd love to hear it. Run something weird!
Pet peeve: Making debate an exclusionary space in any way.
email chains to email@example.com
In a debate round, most of all I'm looking for a clear, concise, and robust exchange of ideas. Some ways to work on this are to make sure you're roadmapping and signposting in all of your speeches, planning ahead to ensure that you're fitting the most important contentions and objections into the allotted time, and responding directly to the arguments and objections your opponents put forth in their own speeches. Do all of this without strawmannirg your opponents (or committing any other major logical fallacies).
Most importantly: Don't take it for granted that your judges can see why your opponents are wrong, or that your contentions speak for themselves in response to challenges. Even if I do see these things, I can't score you well unless you are doing this work yourselves in the debate. Don't let any of your opponents' objections make it through the flow uncontested.
A couple of notes on questioning: I'm not a fan of debaters interrupting or steamrolling their opponents. Be courteous, and give the other team/person a chance to respond and to ask their own questions during grand cross while still using your own speaking time well. Being the loudest person in the room is not synonymous with being the best debater. I do not flow questioning, either. If you want something that came up in questioning to factor into my decision, you need to bring it back up in one of your speeches.
For Congress: It is to the whole chamber's disservice to get stuck on one bill or one series of bills. Even if your favorite bill is being discussed and you haven't gotten a chance to speak yet, it's in your best interest not to extend a tired debate. I would rather see fresh debate on a bill that is less familiar to you than continue to see the same arguments recycled over and over again. Congress is meant to be an extemporaneous event. I don't want your speeches to be pretty and polished like a speech event, or even like a first constructive speech in PF or LD. I want you to show me that you have a range of knowledge and interest in an even wider range of topics in current events, and can speak extemporaneously on these topics in the chamber. There's little I dislike more in debate than for a Congress chamber to take a recess so everyone can "write their speeches." This fundamentally misunderstands the purpose of Congress. The best advice I can give Congress debaters for prep isn't to write polished speeches, but to regularly read (not watch) reputable news sources likeThe New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,The Atlantic,andThe Economist. If you must watch your news, go with the PBS News Hour or something international (i.e. the BBC), not partisan entertainment-oriented channels like CNN, FOX, or MSNBC. Podcasts are fun, but not a substitute for reputable news organizations with full-time fact checkers.
For Lincoln-Douglas: If you're using a moral or political theory from analytic philosophy (i.e. utilitarianism/consequentialism, deontology/rights-based, virtue ethics, Rawls's distributive justice/justice as fairness, any kind of social contract theory, principles from medical ethics, etc) please make sure you know what you're talking about, otherwise it's best to play it safe and stick to something simpler. I have way too many rounds where a untilitarian or consequentialist framework devolves into deontology or rights-based theory, and vice versa. And these are the simplest moral theories; the bar will be even higher if you choose Rawls or something more obscure. I'm not against you using these theories, but make sure you're not biting off more than you can chew. I highly recommend that all LD debaters read the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy extensively in order to better prepare for using and coming up against philosophical concepts in rounds.
For Public Forum: Evidence matters here even more than in the other debate events. Make sure you're reading all of your sources in their entirety before cutting cards. I'm always paying attention, and so are most of the other debaters: if you're using something out of context, you will get called on it eventually by one of your opponents or judges. I will call for evidence in close rounds, so be prepared to hand over your cards. Making empirical assertions without providing empirical evidence will make it very hard for me to vote for you, and misusing evidence will make it nearly impossible.
I am not a fan of most forms of progressive debate, as I want you to make accessible arguments relevant to the resolution, not signal your position on whatever is currently in vogue. For example, if the resolution is about whether the United States should raise taxes on the wealthy, and you're arguing in favor of doing so, it is 100% okay (and probably a great idea) to give arguments about how capitalism can leave certain groups behind and how trickle-down economics only exacerbates wealth inequality and thus eliminates equality of opportunity. It is not germane to the resolution, however, to make all of your arguments about how capitalism is nothing but a tool of oppression and we need to abolish it, as this is not what is at question in the resolution. Similarly, I find meta-analysis of debate as an activity in-round to be grating. I will always favor the person/team using their speaking time to discuss the issue at hand in the resolution.
I don't mind if you spread, but other judges will.
Lincoln-Douglas: I am a traditional LD judge. When I'm deciding who won the round, I first evaluate framing issues like definitions, ground, and burdens. Then I evaluate the value/criterion level to determine what standard(s) I'm using to weigh the impacts. In many of the rounds I judge, I believe that there is unnecessary clash over values and criteria because both sides have the same standard but are using slightly different language. Once I understand the standard(s) level of the debate, I weigh the contention level arguments' impacts to see which side better upholds their standard. You debaters should be weighing impacts during your rebuttal speeches, and those impacts should carry weight because they connect to the standard.
I'm not great at flowing speed. Fast conversational is my limit.
I have a hard time following debates when the arguments are referred to by author names.
If you have a different approach to LD than the traditional model, I am open to it. I just need an explanation for why I should award you my ballot.
Congress: I generally follow the ICDA Congressional Debate rubric for scoring speeches.
Additionally, I ask myself "Is this the appropriate speech for the moment?" The first few speeches should construct the best arguments for and against the legislation, the speeches in the middle of the sequence should focus on refutation and extension, and the final speeches should have weighing and crystallization. For example, if the Con makes a great, impactful argument for why the legislation will have devastating unintended consequences, I expect the Pro side to engage with that argument right away.
For nominations and ranks, I'm rewarding the debaters who I believe would most persuade someone who is on the fence about the issues.
I wholeheartedly believe that this is your activity and your round, so my thoughts shouldn't dictate what happens in the round. My goal as a judge and coach is to allow the debaters to have the debate they want to have, and I have spent a lot of time learning and growing so I can best facilitate that and judge any debate, which I believe I can.
So I can be of better service to you, I have created a list with specific thoughts I have about debate. Do with this what you will.
-A claim is not an argument. Please give warrants and thorough explanation to any claim you make. That is the only way I will vote on that argument.
-When you read a Value and Value Criterion, please carry that through the flow throughout the round unless you kick out of it. Values and Value Criterions are something special about this style of my debate, and, when done well, VC debates are some of my favorites.
-When giving voting issues on specific arguments, please provide impact weighing. Don’t tell me to extend an argument and move on. Explain to me why that matters more than what your opponent is saying.
-Always give your opponents arguments close and careful thought. I promise you that someone has spent time thinking about the things they are saying, so in order for you to keep afloat in the round, don't just dismiss arguments without thorough explanation.
-HAVE FUN! You should do this activity because you enjoy it, and I enjoy judging rounds where the competitors are having fun with what they are doing.
I look forward to judging you in a round. If you have questions about anything on this paradigm or a more specific thought I have on debate, feel free to ask before the round starts. I will be more than happy to answer :)
**p.s. I am a current collegiate competitor in NPDA, IPDA, LD, and IE. I don’t know if that will help you in preparation for a round with me, but I have had quite a few competitors ask if I still compete.
I am a first year judge and debate coach, so I prefer it when you talk more slowly and concisely. Even though this is a competitive activity, be respectful of time limits. I appreciate organization. Highlight signposts as you go through the contentions of your case so I know where to flow your arguments.
Build your case in a linear way that clearly supports your framework and provides sufficient evidence to assist me in determining a winner. Don’t spread; I don’t want to hear that your opponent did not attack your contentions if you give a laundry list of items that is so long no one would have time to attack them all.
Give me a brief off-time roadmap before each argument. As far as framework is concerned, I see it as a tool through which to weigh the round, so you need to defend your framework. If you happen to lose your framework or it collapses, extend your arguments and tell me why that extension is vital.
I want to hear specific examples, evidence and statistics, not just generalized statements that yours is more important or better. I enjoy a debate that utilizes less common examples of how the resolution impacts society. I take notes regarding your contentions and cards, and my decision will be based on how clearly this information actually supports your framework as well as how it is presented and organized. When disputing your opponent’s case, be respectful and disparage the contentions or framework and not the person.
Focus on voter issues as you summarize your case and be sure to tie your voter issues back to your framework. I want you as the debater to identify the clash between the AFF and NEG. Your voter issues NEED to represent the MOST IMPORTANT clash in the debate and convince me why I should vote for you!! In summary, be clear, be concise and be convincing.