Always carefully read invitations to each debate tournament because each one is at least a little bit different from the others. You can find almost every single tournament on http://www.joyoftournaments.com/ga
Most tournament directors clearly tell you about events, criteria for entry, judging obligations, entry and change deadlines, and fees to be assessed. If you don’t follow the rules about adds or drops or entry changes, expect to pay a penalty fee at the tournament’s registration table. If you have drops or changes, call the tournament director before you get on the road to the tournament. This will literally save your neck. If you’re stuck in traffic or have vehicle trouble and thus will be late to the tournament, call the tournament director. Again, this will literally save your neck and possibly prevent your school’s contestants from forfeiting rounds of competition.
The following information was provided Leslie Watkins, GFCA Hall of Fame coach:
Competition Events at Tournaments
To help you understand the usual rules for a number of events, here’s a quick overview.
Varsity Policy Debate- This level of competition is for your top team members and those wishing to stretch their debate wings and learn how to fly. (Usually designed for third and fourth year policy debate teams).
Junior Varsity Policy Debate- Most coaches define this level of competition as for the student who is in his/her second year of debate; thus, they have debated this year’s topic and one previous one.
Novice Policy Debate- Most coaches define this level of competition as for the beginning student who is in his/her first year of debate. Novices are confined the GFCA Novice Packet and Rules (which can be found on the GFCA website). The GFCA membership strongly recommends that ”High school coaches are strongly encouraged to advance first and second year students to the next level (JV, open, varsity) once they have won team awards in that division.”
Lincoln-Douglas Debate- This is a value, rather than policy, oriented forensic art. Students debate individually, instead of with a partner, in this philosophically based competition. The resolution to be debated changes every two months so carefully read each tournament invitation. Novice and Varsity division are offered at some tournaments. Novice being defined as your first year in speech & debate.
Public Forum Debate- This is a persuasive speaking team event. Students debate in pairs about controversial topics in this speaking competition. The resolution to be debated changes every month, so carefully read each tournament invitation. Novice and Varsity divisions are offered at some tournaments. Novice being defined as your first year in speech & debate.
Original Oratory- is a 10 minute max. speech which is both informative and persuasive and focuses on an area of societal concern. Quoted material, literary references, and examples help to intensify the effectiveness of the speech. Some contests allow the speaker to use a manuscript while other contests allow NO manuscript.
Extemporaneous Speaking- is a 7 minute max. informative speech. Topics from the previous six months news are drawn and the contestant has 30 minutes to prepare a speech, using references from print news sources that he/she has brought to the preparation room. Some contests allow the speaker to have one notecard with a max. of 50 words on it while other contests allow NO notes at all.
Humorous Interpretation- is a 10 minute max. performance. Students choose a selection of literary worth and use their voices, expressions, and upper body movement to convey the meaning of the piece to an audience. The selection must be from one published piece of literature. It should be overall humorous in tone. Some contests allow the speaker to use a manuscript while other contests allow NO manuscript.
Dramatic Interpretation- is like Humorous Interpretation except that the overall tone of the presentation should be serious / dramatic in tone.
Duo Interpretation- is much like Humorous and Dramatic Interpretation. The difference is that two contestants work together as a team to present the piece of literature to the audience. They do little to no physical contact and their focal placement centers on their imaginary character placement instead of on each other.
Prose & Poetry Interpretation- is a 10 minute max performance. Students choose a selection of both prose and poetry. The selection can be from one piece of literature or a combination of pieces. This is a reading competition, therefore the student must have a manuscript.
Impromptu Speaking- is a 7 minute max speech. Topics will cover a variety of issues. The event tests the students ability to think on their feet. The students are only allowed to use up to two minutes of their seven total minutes to prepare for their speech. Some contests allow the speaker to have one notecard with a max. of 50 words on it while other contests allow NO notes at all.
Student Congress- Like the name implies, this activity gives students an opportunity to deal with proposed legislation, just as their own elected senators and representatives do. Students learn Parliamentary Procedure (based on Robert’s Rules of Order) and engage in public debate on controversial issues.
Judging Requirements & Expectations
Fees & Number of Judges Needed- Each tournament sets its own fees for hired judges and the number of contestants a judge can cover in each of the events of competition. Most hired judge fees range from $60 to $125 per judge slot. Most tournament directors use the following guideline for the number of judges a school’s entry requires:
one policy judge can cover two teams (4 people);
one Lincoln-Douglas/Public Forum judge can cover four entries (4 people);
one individual events judge can cover five entries (5 slots in the events).
Many tournament directors do allow the hiring of half or partial judges to better accommodate the needs of schools entering their tournament.
After the Deadline / Last Minute Entry Changes-If you hire a judge and do not cancel it BEFORE the deadline for entries/penalty phase, expect to pay the fee. Just because you drop entries at the last minute does not relieve your school of the hired judge fee obligation. Tournament directors must commit to hired judges in advance and reserve their services, regardless of changes you make after the registration deadline.
Suggested Reading/Information Sources Before You Judge- Grady High School has provided excellent powerpoints on judging Lincoln-Douglas debate, and individual events. They are well worth the time taken to read them. You are also encouraged to shadow experienced coaches at tournaments to gain insight in methods of judging various contests. Learn how to judge early in the year! It fosters a connection with your students, saves your program money, and can really be fun. Ask questions of other coaches; we’re here to help.
Use of high school student judges- This is permitted by many tournament directors; however, there are some general recommendations that the GFCA Executive Board wishes to mention here. Students should have competed in the event they’re judging for a minimum often tournaments, with at least three of those ten having been at the varsity level. High school judges can only be used in Novice and Junior Varsity rounds.
Students should NOT judge in the division in which they normally compete during the school year, nor should they judge in a division higher than the one in which they normally compete during the school year. This eliminates the possibility of them judging their peers and breeding resentment among competitors.
Judge Expectations- Judges, whether students or adults, should be positive role models for our high school competitors. The GFCA Executive Board offers the following suggested guidelines:
• No food and drinks in areas outside designated areas,
• Be prompt to rounds and remain there throughout the rounds,
• Use only appropriate and non-offensive language,
• Avoid giving lengthy oral critiques after the round,
• Write descriptive, evaluative, and prescriptive ballots to help the debaters and their coaches.
Contestant / Student Expectations- A number of tournament directors have made the following observations.
• Students should portray themselves as professional and business like in their dress, conduct, and speech. Forensics is a communicative art and we communicate through both our auditory and visual senses.
• We learn by watching and doing; therefore, it is suggested that students watch debate elimination rounds and individual events final rounds. If it’s a policy or Lincoln-Douglas round, flow it. Practice makes one better and the student may be exposed to new ideas on the case area that can help in later competitions. Individual event contestants can pick up ideas for new interp. pieces and alternate methods of character develop-ment and portrayal.
• Students should observe the same standards of behavior required at their home school or higher standards of behavior at the host school. Just as judges and coaches are held accountable for their actions, so are students from a visiting school. If damages occur, be prepared for your school to pay for it.
• The suggested guidelines for judges concerning food and drink; promptness to rounds; appropriate dress; and appropriate language are also suggested for student competitors.