An Updated List of TOC Qualifying Tournaments in Policy Debate, 1992-1993 to 2021-2022

When I was on the Tournament of Champions Policy Debate Advisory Committee in the late-2000s, I created a spreadsheet that tracked the history of TOC bid tournaments by level. At the time, I was able to compile information from 1997-1998 through 2009-2010. The spreadsheet was a useful resource for preparing or reviewing TOC bid tournament applications, and it was also helpful for anyone researching regional or national circuit participation trends.

While working on my recent post about declining participation, I decided to update this spreadsheet to include information through the current (2021-2022) season. I was also able to find information from a few older seasons. The spreadsheet — which is publicly available here (and embedded below the fold) — now includes complete information from 1992-1993 and 1994-1995 through 2021-2022; I couldn’t find information for 1993-1994 or for any seasons before 1992. If more issues of Rostrum are eventually digitized, I hope to fill in more gaps.

It is worth mentioning that this spreadsheet includes the announced bid levels for each season, not necessarily the actual bids awarded. While it is uncommon, qualifying tournaments are sometimes cancelled after the bid list is published — usually due to weather, but occasionally for administrative or other reasons. Sometimes, the TOC Advisory Committee has responded to cancellations by redistributing qualifying levels for other tournaments to make up for the “lost” bids; this happened in 2012-2013, for example, when the USC tournament was cancelled.

Until the mid-1990s, there was also a caveat attached to the list of finals bid tournaments: “Must have 50 of more teams in Varsity Debate from 5 or more states. Otherwise, do not submit.” I did not research how many of the announced finals bid tournaments reached that threshold; results from that era are difficult to find, especially from smaller/regional tournaments.

This year, there are 346 total bids available from 54 qualifying tournaments. This is the largest number of total bids allotted for any season included in the spreadsheet, and it is tied for the second-most total qualifying tournaments (2020-2021 also had 54; 1996-1997 had 55). Overall, the number of bids allotted has increased significantly over the last two decades.