Sunday, November 3, 2013

Debunking Debate- Topic Area Tournaments

So far this year, the UT Tyler Parliamentary Debate Team has traveled to three different cities and competed in five tournaments- two at William Jewell College, one at Lewis and Clark College, and two more at Mckendree University.  These were all difficult tournaments where our team produced a high amount of success.  The main commonality between all of these tournaments was that the topics were not known prior to the tournament date.  Tournament preparation involves keeping up with current events and prepping briefs and cases in regards to those events.  However, the next tournament we will be competing in is at Washburn University, which will be a topic area tournament.

Topic area tournaments are unique, as they allow for a higher level of preparation for the debaters involved.  Rather than knowing the topic only 20 minutes in advance of the round, these tournaments release the topics, or the controversy areas, two to three weeks prior to the first round of debate.  This is beneficial to the quality of the debate, primarily the specific of the arguments presented for evaluation by the judge.  Rather than basing your arguments from the information garnered in the twenty minutes before the round, there is a longer period to develop the debater’s position for the round.

For the Washburn tournament, five controversy areas will generate thirteen debate topics.
We get to debate about space!
  • The USFG should substantially decrease its military presence in and/or military assistance to South East Asia countries.
  • The USFG should make one or more significant concession(s) to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
  • The USFG should decrease prison overcrowding by ending Mandatory Minimum sentencing or increasing prison furlough programs.
  • The United Nations should substantially increase funding to the Peaceful Use of Outer Space Committee for space exploration and/or asteroid defense.
  • The Federal Government of Germany should substantially alter its position on the European Union and/or Eurozone by: pulling its support for a Financial Transaction Tax, supporting the introduction of EuroBonds, or pulling out of the Eurozone.

South East Asia, the
area of discussion for the US military policy
These topics will test the debater’s ability to formulate arguments over a litany of topic areas, such as economics in Europe, military policy in Southeast Asia, and the current prison system and its faults in the United States. 

After the Washburn tournament, there will be two more important topic area tournaments through the rest of the season: the Mile High Classic at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and the National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.  The latter tournament is the most difficult tournament of the season, and as one of our national tournaments, it’s one of the most important. 

For more information about topic area tournaments, as well as the format of upcoming tournaments, check out, the main discussion forum for the NPDA/NPTE Parliamentary Debate circuit.   Also, don’t forget about, the main source of tournament results for the rest of the season.   

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