Monthly Archives: November 2021

National Circuit High School Policy Debate Participation is Cratering

Since the beginning of the season, it has been obvious to me that participation in high school policy debate has declined. Anecdotally, tournament fields have been noticeably smaller and fewer schools have been actively competing. I’ve been concerned about this for months, but I thought maybe it was mostly an issue with the tournaments I’ve been (virtually) attending. While some tournaments might be smaller, I hoped that others might have grown and offset the difference. Has overall participation really declined? And if so, by how much?

I decided to find out. Based on my research, the answers are “yes” and “by a lot.” Participation in policy debate has declined significantly from 2020 to 2021. And it has declined even more significantly from 2019 to 2021.

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Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives: Hingstman on Topicality and the “Division of Ground” Standard

Digging Into The Debate Theory Archives is a series highlighting “old” debate theory articles that are particularly thought-provoking, influential, or illuminating and that active debate students would benefit from reading.

Dr. David Hingstman recently retired after a long and distinguished coaching career. In this post, I will share one of my favorite of his many scholarly articles: a 1985 conference paper explaining a “division of ground” framework for understanding and debating topicality.

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Burden of Rejoinder, Episode 3: Analyzing The Water Resources Protection Topic (So Far)

After providing a brief update about the 2022-2023 topic selection process, co-hosts Bill Batterman and Brian Manuel spend most of this episode discussing the water resources protection topic. What are their major takeaways? What trends have they identified? How do they expect the topic to develop during the rest of the season? They analyze the survey of the elimination rounds at St. Mark’s and offer suggestions for students and coaches as they prepare for the next wave of tournaments.

You can subscribe to Burden of Rejoinder in your favorite podcast application. New episodes will be released approximately twice per month. To ask a question or to suggest an episode topic, email

As noted in the outro, Bill and Brian are especially interested in hearing from coaches who have recently attended an in-person debate tournament. If you’re interested in sharing your perspective, please send an email and they’ll use it to help prepare for a future episode about the return of in-person debate.