In 2009, the National Forensic League established an award to honor one of America’s greatest debate coaches, James Unger. James M. Copeland introduced the Unger Cup in the May 2009 issue of Rostrum:
The 2009 Stars Fell on Alabama Nationals will mark the initial presentation of the Unger Cup to the nation’s most successful high school debate squad. This annual award, named in honor of one of America’s very finest debaters and coaches, James Unger, will be awarded to the school debate team which places highest in the six great national debate tournaments: The NFL National Debate Tournament; the NCFL Grand Debate Tournament; the NAUDL Chase Urban Debate National Championship; the University of Kentucky Tournament of Champions (TOC); The Bickel & Brewer/New York University National Public Policy Forum tournament (NPPF); and the National Debate Coaches Association (NDCA) Debate Tournament.
The Unger Cup, an antique silver three handled loving cup, created by Tiffany at the turn of the century, and donated by Professor Unger’s friends and students, will be presented each year at the NFL National Tournament. The cup will reside in the NFL national headquarters where it will display the names of the yearly winners on its hand crafted base. A beautiful bas relief plaque will be presented to the winning school, for their permanent possession.
James Unger reached the quarterfinals at NFL Nationals and later both the semifinals and the finals of the NDT (college nationals). As a coach his teams won first and second at NDT.
The winning team will accumulate “Unger Cup” points in the six national tournaments mentioned [see point schedule below]. Several debaters from a school may contribute to their school team total, but no points may be earned by mixed school teams.
Jim Unger was vitally interested in high school policy debate. For years his high school policy debate institute was the largest in America. His publication on the debate topic, “Second Thoughts” was widely read. His service to the NFL and to the Debate Topic Wording Committee was constant and committed. Unger was expert in the forumlation of competitive academic arguments and policy making paradigms. A Cup which honors high school policy debaters who have achieved highest honors, now commemorates the life and work of James J. Unger.
The scale for the Unger Cup is as follows:
- NDCA, NAUDL, and NPPF — Champion: 10, Runner-Up: 5, Semifinals: 2, Quarterfinals: 1
- NCFL — Champion: 20, Runner-Up: 10, Semifinals: 4, Quarterfinals: 2
- TOC — Champion: 30, Runner-Up: 15, Semifinals: 8, Quarterfinals: 4
- NFL — Champion: 40, Runner-Up: 20, Semifinals: 15, Quarterfinals: 8
Past winners of the Unger Cup were:
- 2009: Damien High School — La Verne, CA
- 2010: Whitney Young Magnet High School — Chicago, IL
This year’s standings after the NDCA, NAUDL, NPPF (now the IPPF), and TOC:
- The Westminster Schools (Atlanta, GA) — 35 (TOC Champion, NDCA Runner-Up)
- Damien High School (La Verne, CA) — 18 (NDCA Champion, TOC Semifinals)
- Lexington High School (Lexington, MA) — 15 (TOC Runner-Up)
- Plano Senior High School (Plano, TX) — 10 (IPPF Champion)
- University High School (Newark, NJ) — 10 (NAUDL Champion)
The winner will be announced at this year’s NFL National Tournament in Dallas.