Debate helps students to develop speaking, thinking, and listening skills. Students who debate become more engaged in the world around them and develop sophisticated knowledge about a wide range of current events and complex ideas. Debate in the middle grades prepares students for success in high school, college, and beyond, while providing immediate benefits for academic success. Debate is valuable for gifted students and so-called ―at-risk‖ students alike, helping students of all ages take active responsibility for their own learning in a challenging and dynamic atmosphere. (This answer is directly quoting forensics experts Kate Shuster & John Meany, in their terrific book, SPEAK OUT.)

The league has put together a schedule for the year which we will try our best to adhere to. Not all schools will attend all tournaments. An invitation will be issued to the different coaches, and then forwarded to their eligible participants. The invitation will include the site details such as address, directions, and other important information for that day’s events. Click here to see the online calendar for the current 2017-18 schedule.

Different host schools will volunteer to accommodate the league when possible.

The invitations will always include a tentative schedule. Running a tournament, however, is a tricky thing. Thus, we ask that participating families and schools be patient as the schedule will sometimes change as the day progresses. Remember that it only takes a single ballot not being turned in to the ballot turn-in table for the entire tournament to be delayed.

Speech tournaments have been scheduled for mid-week, starting as soon as the host school can clear the campus and ready the rooms. See individual invitations throughout the year for specific schedules. Debate tournaments have been scheduled for Saturdays so that we may have 4 preliminary rounds and up to 3 9 out-rounds, to determine champions in the different events. A good guess would be 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. for speech and 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. for debate. Keep in mind that students who do not advance into out-rounds will know by the end of the lunch break. Thus, they may be free to go. Please consult your coaches as each school may have a different policy about this. For example, one school that I know of will encourage students to stay and watch rounds, as a learning tool.

Every attempt will be made to get our students home at a reasonable time and to keep the tournaments running on time. Please understand that tournaments can run over-time. We are getting better and better at this so there is hope for a tournament that runs on time – it’s inevitable!

The league leaves lunch arrangements up to the host school to coordinate. We ask that the host school include the different lunch (or dinner) options in the invitation to help the participants to know what to expect, so they may plan accordingly. Most schools will provide a snack stand and a meal option of some sort at a nominal cost.

One way is to encourage great sportsmanship. Also, you can talk to your child about the different issues in the news. Discuss these subjects informally and allow your child to voice his/her opinion. Offer your own viewpoint and point out where your child’s reasoning seems weak. If you observe your child in round, then please be a passive participant. As much as you want to applaud or send a hand signal or such, this is not appropriate. You may sit and observe but reserve comments or ―coaching‖ for after the round. Be POSITIVE with your child about his/her performance. These students are engaged in public speaking and they should be commended for their efforts. (I suggest cutting this because it perhaps stresses the competitive aspect too much.)

Different schools may have different policies. But most schools ask that students wear suits or similar ―business formal‖ attire.

Topics and events are listed on the website calendar.

Coaches will be helping the host to run the tournament so parents are greatly needed to help keep the teams in order. Please see coaches for how you can specifically help out at tournament. Many parents wish the coaches could be 10 observing their child in round, and giving them immediate feedback. However, this may not happen if the coach is needed to help keep the tournament running on time. The league relies on the coaches to help with the many tasks that comprise running a great event. Thus parents are encouraged to ask coaches how they can be of assistance on tournament days.

If your coach is not available because he or she is helping to run the tournament, then you should go to the ballot check in table and explain the problem. They will then explain the problem to TAB. The TAB will then decide if the board needs to convene and issue a decision about the specific problem. Please remember that the tournament will do everything it can to run on time. If a problem can wait until after the tournament to be dealt with, then that may be the resolution. However, grievances WILL be dealt with and you WILL get a definitive answer from the board at their earliest convenience. The league expects students to follow a code of ethical behavior. Some mistakes could just be a coach who was misinformed, or a student who unknowingly does something wrong. The board will do everything it can to be fair and to encourage students to continue to participate in the activities.

The league asks host schools to provide the top students with trophies. The cost of these trophies is usually recouped with the registration fees and snack sales profits. League schools are encouraged to acknowledge all of their students who have participated in a tournament in some way. Some schools do certificates of participation at the end of the year at a team banquet. Other schools may choose to announce student participants’ names over the public address system. All students who choose to engage in this activity are deserving of positive recognition.

Any child who participates in these forensics activities is successful. They say that public speaking is feared more than death. Thus, a child in these formative years who is willing to take on this skill-set is automatically a winner. The focus of our league is to provide competition for students so that they may learn and improve. With time, any child can achieve great success in forensics. For some, it may take longer to build confidence and to learn the structures and how to research, choose selections, cite evidence, refute arguments, etc.

Even if you never serve as a judge, it will help your child if you participate in one of the judge trainings. If for no other reason, then you will at least understand what your child’s critic is going to be asked to do, in order to issue a decision. At tournaments, after students go off to their first round, parents, older students, and anyone else who would like are encouraged to stay in the general assembly area and participate in a judge training session. These sessions will be run by one or two of the coaches. There are certain guidelines that help judges to be optimally effective.

Yes. Students may watch rounds. The SCJFL rounds are open to audiences. Some people may feel this is ―cheating‖ or ―unfair‖ because a team that is observing may end up competing against a team they observed, and thus, may have heard their arguments and anticipated answers for those arguments. Scouting, as it is referred to sometimes in forensics, is NOT cheating and it is NOT unfair. The SCJFL encourages students to participate in good debates in which there is a lot of ―clash‖ on the arguments. A student who debates another student who has answers to his or her arguments becomes a better debater. If a parent does not understand this rule or disagrees with this rule, then please speak with your coach. Do not accuse students of being cheaters. They are observing, learning, and becoming a better debater. No coach asks their student to rely purely on the element of surprise. We ask our students to learn to think on their feet and to weigh arguments, and to explain why their arguments are better than their opponents’ arguments. The league’s position on this is clear: it does not encourage or discourage students from scouting. Scouting can also work against a student by ―psyching them out‖ or making them feel intimidated going in to the round.

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