Resolved: High School Debates Aren't What You Think They Are

I caught the HBO documentary Resolved the other night and was totally fascinated. It's about the highly competitive world of high school debating, which is a totally different thing than I assumed it was. My idea of high school debate teams was more along the lines of something out of Rushmore, but they're actually way weirder than that. The kids try to pack as much information as they possibly can into the time that they have, so they developed an ultra-fast way of speaking that involves a sort of manic breathing technique. Rather than characterized by persuasive arguments and poise, the debates are almost scientific in the way they are crafted, and the desired result of every debate is that whatever being argued about will end in nuclear war and human extinction. Clip above.


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I debated in hs for three years and damn if these kids aren't the sloppiest spreaders i've ever heard. part of it is because half of them are sitting down. Spreading is supposed to enable debaters to debate at the speed of thought, not the speed of normal speech.

When I was debating, though, I would only spread if I had a judge that I was pretty sure was a former debater. By the way... lots of colleges have policy debate teams that really work hard at building huge libraries of cases. These colleges also offer hugely expensive summer debate camps — most popular are UMich and Dartmouth, but lots of state colleges run them, too.

If you want to catch a debate you can understand (for those not gifted in the art of spreading) just watch some Lincoln-Douglas debates. Those fuckers can't spread for shit (which, in my opinion, is why they are LDers).

If you want to pick up a dime bag or some acid, tho, stick with the policy/cx debaters.