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The Adventures of a Debate Nerd
Me: Hey what's policy debate?
Coach: Something that you are not emotionally cut out for.
Me: Do you think my case will do well?
Coach: You emailed it to me right?
Me: *Nods*
Coach: I skimmed over it, you'll be fine. It's not like it was anything amazing.
Me: I don't watch anything in English really often.
Coach: You had to watch cartoons when you were little right?
Me: Yeah I watched "Tom and Jerry" and "Power Rangers"
Coach: Please tell me you watched "Avatar the Last Airbender".
Me: ...
Coach: You are a disgrace to this team.
Coach: *proceeds to look up the rating of Avatar the Last Airbender*
Coach: "Avatar the Last Airbender" has a rating of 9.2, better than any of the crap that you watch.
Debate Teammate 1: We're totally going to make it to the Tournament of Champions!
Me: You? No way. You couldn't even debate your own mother
Coach: *Laughs half-heartedly* No, just no. None of you are good enough for that.
Me: So how are we going to train during the pre-season?
Coach: Oh I have a list of weakness for all of you to work on.
Me: *Sweats nervously* What are mine?
Coach: Lack of flow control and emotional instability.
Partner: We are so going to win everything. I bet we're going to break for finals and win first place!
Me: What the hell are you talking about? I'm just hoping we make it to the next round alive.
Coach: If you don't make it to State. I'm kicking you off the team.
Me: But we won't make it to State.
Coach: State quals is child's play, if you can't make it through that I will disown you.
Me: Why do I have to put up with you?
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Adventures of a Debate Nerd (Part 2)
Coach: Okay guys after the tournament where do you guys want to eat
Debate Teammate 3: I hate IHOP and Village In. As a vegan I can't eat anything there
Debate Teammate 1: I don't like Pho it's too ethnic
Me: It seems nothing cool will be open by the time we get out. (Also I don't want to be the one that decides this.)
Coach: Well I guess the choice is Olive Garden.
Me: Okay I'll call them for the 8th time this year
Me: Hey Coach! When's the next meeting? Is it this Friday?
Coach: God no, I can't take so much of you in one week.
Me: Debate camp has only been 5 days with a weekend in between
Coach: Well see you in 3 weeks!
Me: *Studying furiously at a debate tournament*
Coach: Stop studying, you shouldn't be studying, you should be prepping
Me: But I've got a lot of homework
Coach: Well no wonder why you lose.
Me: Can I do LD debate this year?
Coach: No you're not good enough.
Me: Then who are you going to partner me with?
Coach: This new guy because you guys are both on the same level and because you were nice to him during practice.
Me: At some point, I'm going to get kicked off the team for sucking so much.
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alrighty so i had a fucking 10 hour long tournament on saturday, and the second round i debated against this cute kid and we kept making eye contact during cross even though we’re not supposed to, and after we beat them i deadass went on tabroom and STALKED HIM and found his name and found his social media and he accepted my follow request! ayeee im living. also debate boys are usually cute ngl

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lawful good: “is everyone ready?”

neutral good: “their case, our case.”

chaotic good: *fumbles with beeping timer*

lawful neutral: “i’ll just be going down my opponents’ case.”


chaotic neutral: *starts speech before anyone is ready*

lawful evil: “is anybody not ready?”

neutral evil: “judge ready? partner ready? opponents ready? timekeeper ready?” 

chaotic evil: “as an off-time roadmap, i’ll be reading an offensive overview that you can flow by our case as another contention, going down my opponents’ case with responses, and then — if time allows — going back over our own case.”

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at my last tournament, there was this one judge who, after the round was over, called both teams over to where he was sitting and asked super leading questions so basically we had to redo the entire debate right there but there was no like timings or anything so whenever i tried to talk this asshole from the other team kept talking over me until I finally just said “stop making incorrect assertions and listen to me” and then went on a five minute rant about the justice system. thank god we don’t have civility points anymore bc I was ready to strangle someone and it definitely showed. 

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It was the first varsity tournament of my sophomore year. The topic: on balance, the benefits of genetically modified foods outweigh the harms. Because of the wording of the resolution we used a cost benefit analysis. Let it be known however, there are very few harms when it comes to genetic modification.

The benefits of genetic modification include how they help make crops healthier, how it helps farmers yield larger harvests, how GM crops can be used to make better vaccines, how genetic modification limits pesticide usage, and how genetically modified organisms are more resilient to the natural forces. Frankly, there’s even more benefits (and stats to support them), but the list would be ridiculously long. The costs include several false reports of prenatal bleeding caused by GM crops, some small farms being harmed economically by big corporations, the endangerment of one species of monarch butterfly, and the potential creation of superweeds in select environments.

These costs are hardly evident in comparison to the benefits. As such, my affirmative was extensive, articulate, and thorough. This was the first time I was truly proud of a case. The negative, on the other hand, was a disaster.

I wrote two separate negative cases. One had three relatively weak contentions. The other had the same contentions, but I wrote in a red herring contention. The strategy is simple: write a short, easily beaten contention in the middle of a case. This hopefully makes it so the opponent focuses on the one contention, as opposed to the rest of the case. With the genetic modification case the red herring was that GM crops endanger one species of monarch butterfly.

At the tournament, the coin flipped in our favor all three rounds and we wound up both affirmative and speaking second. Needless to say, with the strength of my case and luck on our side, Crackshot and I won all three rounds.

It is also of note that the second round of the tournament was the first I faced one of my rivals, Alec. He was always kind to me, but never courteous in our debates. Each time we faced off, he brought along a different partner. I remember this first face off because our judge was my father’s old debate coach. It really bugged Alec that I was a year younger than him and the judge already knew me. We would later face him three more times, but I’ll get to that later.

This meet was important because for the first time ever, Crackshot and I broke to finals. It was a big deal to us, so the second the round posted we hustled to our room early and waited for everyone to arrive.

Our opponents arrived soon after, and much to our chagrin they were seasoned veterans. It was a boy and a girl, both seniors. The boy, being ill, refused to shake anyone’s hand. He was slender, meticulous, and was their first speaker. The girl was calculated and cruel, but had dyed hair to almost humanize her. We would soon learn that she could talk circles around the Crackshot. In fact, she’s part of the reason Crackshot started to speed up his speeches.

In a stroke of bad luck, we lost the coin toss. They took the affirmative. We took second speaker. We hadn’t run the negative yet. It was poorly written. It was sloppy. We were un-practiced. And our opponents were superior. On top of that I had included that red herring contention. It was only a sentence: in a study done by the Institute for Modern Technology, GM crops eliminate habitat for the monarch butterfly, a species whose population is already down 50%. It was ridiculous. We were screwed.

As the round began I lost myself. I was flustered through my speeches, their first speaker walked over me in my crossfire. Crackshot did his best, but he was no match for her experience and poise. If I recall this was the first of only a few times I ever took off my jacket and rolled up my sleeves mid-round.

I lost all hope, so during that final speech I pretended to take notes. I was drawing a little cartoon. It was of a prickly plant wearing a cape. A super weed. But during that final speech I saw something. Crackshot was still steadfast. He left everything on the floor and refused to give up. This was our first finals round, and he wasn’t letting anything stop him. I appreciated his rigor. When I crumbled, he carried on. As a team we could be unstoppable.


We lost that round. Pretty handily. We took sixth place at the meet overall, and they gave us a small trophy. That was the best we had ever done, and hearing them say our names on the stage is a feeling I never will forget.

I still have that drawing of the superweed. Every time I look at it I remember that thrill. The thrill of winning. The thrill of competition. Most of all, the thrill of someone having my back. Crackshot had my back in that meet, and for the rest of highschool.

I kept that drawing in my briefcase the next three years. This is the fifth of eight lucky charms that we kept with us at each meet, and I always thought this one held the most weight. It started us on a path of countless wins for the next three seasons.

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