This year's Topic: The United States federal government should substantially increase its security cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in one or more of the following areas: artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity.
Cultivate Research and Advocacy Skills
As we navigate the expanded availability of information and disinformation, competitive debate provides an important pedagogical tool for cultivating research and advocacy skills. Argumentation with evidence, fundamental to debate, is a cornerstone of a thriving democracy. Develop argument, persuasion, research and organization skills that you can use within the classroom and other aspects of your life. If you like to argue and research and strategize and persuade, debate is an excellent home!
Debate is the Greatest Sport on Earth
Debate is one of the oldest and most competitive activities at Jesuit and you can earn a varsity letter. In fact, Jesuit debate has won more team and individual awards then almost all the other teams and clubs combined
Meet New People
Competitions are co-ed against public and private schools, across the country. Even in an online environment, we will debate and interact with people nationwide.
Research and Debate Various Issues
You will get to argue about current events, politics, environment, law, economics, philosophy, international relations, military issues, and much more. Each year focuses on a new unique, broad, current event voted upon by the National Federation of High Schools.
Head Start on SAT/ACT Prep
The core of debate is evidence based learning and debate prepares you for success on the newly reformulated and refocused SAT and ACT
The foundation of the Jesuit Forensics team is cross-examination debate or policy debate. Academic debate focuses on a specific proposition of policy that is chosen by all the schools that participate in debate and speech. A proposition of policy is a statement that asserts that an agent of change should or ought to take a specific action on a particular issue. The proposition creates the focus of controversy and divides the ground between the affirmative and negative sides. The affirmative side supports the proposition by illustrating an example that proves the resolution. The affirmative has the burden to illustrate that the present system is not addressing a problem, that the problem is significant and harmful, and that their specific change would solve the problem. The negative side attempts to disprove the resolution by illustrating the effectiveness of the current approach, denying the affirmative harm, and/or the undesirability of the affirmative change. In addition to the two person teams, the third actor in a debate is the judge(s). The judge decides which team wins debate and awards each participant speaker points based on their individual performance.
The format for a debate is four constructive speeches (8 minutes) each of which is followed by a cross-examination period (3 minutes). Each participant then has a rebuttal speech (5 minute). The speech order is modeled after the judicial system so the affirmative speaks first and last, while the negative has a block of back-to back speeches in the middle.
First year debaters typically practice two to three days a week after school. Freshmen can receive P.E. credit for debate. Typical after school practice for first year debaters (aka "novices") include “lay-up drills" (short drills that practice debating, speaking, and cross-examination) and "Strategy and Playbook" (practicing Jesuit arguments and in-round debate strategies and skills).
Debaters transitioning to varsity will follow similar practice schedules.
The only cost debaters are required to cover is purchasing their own food at tournaments. Jesuit provides generous support for the debate team. Tournament fees, hotel, and transportation costs are fully covered.
Debate tournaments themselves, particularly for first year debaters, are usually two-day affairs and are composed of preliminary rounds and elimination rounds. Some tournaments spill into a 3rd day. Tournaments may occur online or in-person. Team members participating in online tournaments usually compete from Jesuit.
In the preliminary rounds, teams debate an equal number of affirmative and negative debates. The first two debates (one affirmative and one negative) are usually random paired where teams can debate anyone. After those debates, teams are power matched so that they debate teams with a similar win-loss record. Most tournaments have between 4-7 prelim debates. After the prelims, the tournament breaks into elimination debates using a single-elimination bracket similar to NCAA's March Madness basketball tournament. The number of teams that clear into the elimination debates depends on the size of the tournament and can range from 8-32 teams. Teams are seeded in the elimination rounds based on their win-loss record and their speaker points.
Debate, like many other activities has transformed over the past years offering opportunities both in-person and online.
In-Person: When we compete in Dallas-area local tournaments, we provide transportation to and from Jesuit. Debaters may be picked up and dropped off in the back of the school by the Pegasus statue, accessible by turning on Rich Harrington Way, between Jesuit and St. Rita. When we compete in regional or national tournaments in person, Jesuit provides the transportation and hotel for debaters.
Online: The national debate community uses a couple of different online platforms to host tournaments. These platforms enable the teams to log in along with a judge to complete the debate round synchronously. When the Jesuit Debate Team competes in online tournaments, we generally debate from school. Each Jesuit team of two will have a classroom assigned to them. We also provide food during the tournament to debaters.
First year debaters, or novices in debate-speak, typically attend one tournament a month. Varsity debaters may attend 1-2 tournaments a month. Generally, there is a local, regional, or national tournament every weekend. The coaches will plan for debaters which tournament makes the most sense to attend in order to achieve competitive goals. Given entry limitations, each debater does not attend each tournament that Jesuit attends during the season. Local tournaments for novice are either Friday and Saturday or Saturday only competitions. Competitively successful freshmen in the fall semester may be asked to debate JV or Varsity in the spring.
Tournaments usually will have 3-4 rounds of competition a day. When you commit to a tournament, you must plan to attend all days of a competition because you should expect to be in the elimination rounds! Local tournaments for novice competition are usually Friday and Saturday. Regional and national level tournaments that have novice divisions could be 3 days usually Saturday, Sunday, Monday.
After the debate, a judge (or panel of judges if it’s the elimination rounds) renders a decision about who won the debate. Judges base their decisions on many things but it is usually a combination of substance and style. Most judges consider which team illustrated their position with evidence and reasoning and which team clashed and refuted the other side’s arguments better. The judge also rates each speaker individually on a scale from 1 to 30 and ranks the four debaters in each round from 1 to 4. These ratings are called speaker points and are used to determine individual awards as well as seeding for the elimination rounds. Most judges also provide some initial feedback after the debates to help the debaters prepare for future rounds.
Yes, varsity teams can qualify for the Texas Forensic League State Debate tournament by virtue of their finishes at local tournaments. Jesuit has won the TFA State tournament 5 times, including closing out the state tournament in 2010. Additionally, Jesuit qualifies for and attends the National Debate Coaches Association National Championships. The novice national tournament in Atlanta in March/April is the premier event for first year debaters in the nation. Additional opportunities may be created for freshmen that compete and qualify for JV and Varsity.