The Secret World of Speech and Debate

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The Secret World of Speech and Debate

In every high school you have the have your animated drama kids, the loud and proud band geeks, all the way down to the overachievers who want to take that extra math course for fun. We often use social media and movies to guide us in a way where we have stereotypes for people who are associated with an elective in high school…specifically speech and debate. What people don’t realize about speech and debate is not the fact that it exists – it’s so much more than just an argument. It’s a whole other world.

The first thing a parent thinks of when they hear the words “speech and debate” is usually something along the lines of ,”Oh that’s very impressive, What do you guys argue about?” These kinds question make every debater want to face palm themselves. Speech and debate consist of many events that a student can compete in. There is an acting side and a debate side.  The debate side consists of events such as Congress, Public Forum, and Lincoln Douglas. These events require evidence and persuasion in order to get your point across.  Then there’s the acting side, with events such as DUO, dramatic performance, and oral interpretation, etc. These events usually require a performance based around a theme. Every debater has their own personal journey when it comes to figuring out which event they’re good at. Personally, it took me two years to figure out what I was good at in debate and I’m so glad that I took the opportunity to be in speech and debate. It has taught me so much about the world.

Every month, teens in the U.S get up at 4:00 in the morning on a Saturday to put on a suit and compete in a tournament. There is so much work involved when it comes being a speech and debate kid, even the coaches get their fair share of work. There are local tournaments, overnight tournaments and national tournaments. Teams from almost all 50 states go to compete at these national tournaments. As you can see it can get a little (or a lot) competitive.

According to the National Speech and Debate Association, “The association provides competitive speech and debate activities, high-quality resources, comprehensive training, scholarship opportunities, and advanced recognition to more than 150,000 students and coaches every year. For more than 90 years, the National Speech & Debate Association has empowered more than 1.5 million members to become engaged citizens, skilled professionals, and honorable leaders in our society.” Many people don’t even know that celebrities such as Josh Gad, Zac Efron, James Dean and Oprah Winfrey are alumni of the NSDA.

With that being said let’s get down to the nitty gritty of things. Why is that many people in our society don’t acknowledge or even know speech and debate is really about? It’s not about how many times you placed first or who’s been in debate the longest…It’s about working with others and discovering yourself. It’s important that people know more about speech and debate because working together, is something we can all benefit from. For more information, visit the N.S.D.A website.