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Davis Journal

Let’s debate about debate club

Dec 14, 2023 09:45AM ● By Owen Stevens - Davis Journal intern
Students at a debate event. The Debate club is a fun place where teams work together to present their ideas. Courtesy photo

Students at a debate event. The Debate club is a fun place where teams work together to present their ideas. Courtesy photo

Debate is a very fun club, or class that most high schools in America have. Though it can sound nerdy, or scary if you don’t like public speaking or arguing, it is incredibly fun, and a great place for you to meet people, and become part of a good group and have good connections with others.

What goes on in Debate? Naturally in debate, people debate of course. But there are other things you can do, called “Speech Events,” and if you want to debate, there are many events for debate as well. Here are each of the events for Debate. 

Congressional Debate – This event is meant to simulate or have something similar, to parliamentary procedures in the Senate, or the House of Representatives. Participants can write a bill, or a resolution that gets presented to the “House” that bill or resolution can be “Sponsored” and have it brought to the floor. From there, there is a back and forth debate, with speeches and questioning on the logistics of the bill, the impacts, if it’s good, negative, or even necessary. The bill can also be modified with Amendments, to try and have both sides agree on the bill or resolution, and hopefully make it so both sides agree on it.

Public Forum – Where you and a partner argue about a topic, and try and prove to that judge that either the costs outweigh the benefits, or the benefits outweigh the costs. It is a fun event if you would like to debate with a partner. Both partners alternate speaking and asking questions.

Lincoln Douglas debate – Is a debate on how society should be, it is a one on one event, that brings up morality, and “Values,” it is a great event for someone who likes debating, but would rather rely solely on themselves.

Policy Debate – Is a debate where a plan is given, and one side proposes it, and the other side tries to dissuade the plan from happening. It is a two on two debate that also brings up values, as well as hypotheticals. This is a fun event, though not for the faint of heart, it can become quite difficult, but ultimately it is fun and since the topic for this debate stays the same through the whole year, there is plenty of time to prepare for it.

For speech events, these do not have any debating in it, these are based on the quality of the speech rather than the quality of the argument.

Impromptu – Is a debate where you are given seven minutes, and three random topics to choose from. Topics could be as simple and specific as wood, paper, and plastic, the main goal of the speech is to either be as informative as possible, or tie the topic to a broader more impactful thing, with generally some call to action, or something that could stick with the judge.

Extemporaneous speaking – There are a few different kinds, such as US, and foreign Extemporaneous speaking, but ultimately the rules of the event remain the same. Students go into a “Draw room” and are then given three topics and 30 minutes to both prepare and give a speech, with either political, or world impact.

Interpretation – These events are perfect for anyone who likes to act, there are a few different kinds, such as humorous, or dramatic. There is also a duo interpretation, that can be dramatic or humorous. The main goal of this is to try and memorize something from literature, a show, or a play, and perform it for the judges, and hopefully, make them cry from laughing, or cry from sadness, which in both cases, means you did good.

Now these may seem intimidating, or boring, this can be a great opportunity to increase your public speaking skills, your debating skills, and ultimately, it is a great way to have fun, meet new people, and develop connections with your team.

What is it like at tournaments? It is a fun environment, there are high schoolers, from all over the State of Utah that come to compete. The tournament usually consists of three-four preliminary rounds, and up to four more if you move onto ranked rounds. Between rounds is a fun time to meet new people, work on your case and hang out with your team. Usually there is about an hour in between rounds, that gives you plenty of time to see the sights of the city you're in.