Some Mid Season Notes-Part 1

A few issues I’ve come across in judging multiple debates this year, so no one should feel particularly targeted by any remarks… unless I judged you.

1. “turns the case” is not an argument. Particularly when the aff has multiple distinct advantages that have different internal links, and its unclear if you are link or impact turning. This is usually a problem with K arguments in particular but also with case turn strategies. Just because you read an argument on the case or mentioned the case when making your argument does not mean I automatically assume the case has pulled a 180 in response. You need to explain the specific affirmative advantages you are turning, how you are turning them, and why this turn is more important than the affirmatives solvency argument. That last part is crucially important- if the aff reads an economy advantage and you try and turn it with your da you need to explain why the DA impact on the economy is more meaningful than the case impact on the economy. This is particularly important the more abstract your impact is- when the aff has 3 distinct war advantages and you say “the K turns the case- alienation is the root cause of war” I am not going to give you any credit for having made an argument. Even if the aff doesn’t explain their advantage very well – they have at least read a card that explains the internal link- just asserting the converse is not an argument.

2. Theory- seriously. I thought maybe things would change this year as a lot of camps made a big push for states theory arguments and a lot of coaches at big squads seemed to be in agreement that the neg had gone overboard with conditionality/absurd cps and so the aff would be trying to even things out. But in the debates i’m judging the neg is usually doing a very bad job defending theory and the aff is still not going for it. Every 1A out there- take 20 minutes and write a conditionality 1AR block and a PICS/Agent CP’s 1AR block and then practice reading them 10 times so when this comes up in the future you are ready.

3. Clarity- is really getting bad. Even several debaters I have judged in years past seem to have gotten less clear. This seems to be a big problem among clearing teams and I think that maybe once they get some success they stop doing their speaking drills because they don’t think they have to any more. Trust me you do- imagine if you were an NFL running back and you got a hundred yard game so you stopped running at practice- you’d be nuts. Similarly, getting a speaker award or making it to the quarters of a big tournament does not eliminate your need to do speaking drills.

4. Add ons – I wouldn’t say a lot of teams I judge have been reading them in the 2AC, but I have noticed that the teams that do usually get a lot of utility out of them.  It’s possible that the nature of this years topic doesn’t lend itself to affs with a lot of good add ons the way last year’s topic did, but nobody ever said an add on had to be good. I saw a few teams read absolutely terrible agent based add ons when the neg read an agent CP and the neg was so flustered/caught by surprise they made some terrible strategic decisions. Never underestimate the game changing nature of a quick add on.

5. The Cap k- yes its prolific, but 2 things should also come with that

1. The neg should be ready with specific links/the best cards on every argument/be able to explain their argument well in cross x

2. The aff should have a lot of blocks, and be ready for all the stock negative tricks.

Number 2- I guess if you are a 2A you have a lot of balls in the air, maybe some things slip through the cracks. But if you run the cap K a lot number 1 is totally inexcusable. The difference in evidence quality that I see from team to team is astounding, and I’m guessing its not because some teams are doing a lot of original cap work- its because a few teams have put in the work compiling camp evidence and writing blocks and reworking them and refining them over and over again. You don’t need a lot of new evidence- the amount of cap evidence out there for free is astounding, it could easily take a team weeks to go through it all. But if you are going to be relying on a position that generic you’re going to need to do it.

Number 2 I will admit- the best cap answers I have seen be read probably aren’t as prolific in camp files, but they are out there for sure- on the case list for example. When you are aff its much more important to have the best card on each issue than to have a lot- having a really good “need a blue print” card in the 2AC is much more important than having a good alternative card in the 1NC because its much harder to stage a comeback in the 1AR by reading a lot of evidence, especially when there is a diverse block.