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Up for Debate?

Lincoln-Douglas debate captains discuss the ins and outs of the club as first tournament approaches
Members from Lincoln-Douglas debate stand outside the building where one of their tournaments took place.
Members from Lincoln-Douglas debate stand outside the building where one of their tournaments took place.

The Lincoln-Douglas debate team has begun preparation for their first tournament of the year, which will take place on Oct. 21 against Homewood Flossmoor High School.

The team meets on Mondays and Tuesdays after school in Room E355, and practice year-round to compete against other schools.

“The structure of this upcoming tournament is pretty similar to the rest of our tournaments this year,” said senior Jainik Shroff, one of the captains for LD debate. “We’ll drive out to Homewood Flossmoor and there will be a total of five rounds for each individual level. At the end of that, whoever wins the most rounds will get an award.”

All Lincoln-Douglas competitions are open to students who want to support the debate team, whether they are at home or away. Between these tournaments, debaters research, draft and prepare a case for competition, which is then judged based on the quality of the argument.

“Your topic has to be something that you’re passionate about because it really sucks to argue over something that you don’t care for,” said senior Sravya Dontharaju, another of the debate captains. “For example, I really like anything to do with the environment, so a lot of my debate cases center around environmental topics, and it’s the same for pretty much every other member of the team once they figure out what they’re into.”

Though having an interesting topic is important, a number of other factors contribute to a successful debate case as well.

If you have a very complex argument or a very complex case, you’ve got to be able to simplify it for the common person to understand. I think that’s the difference between winning a couple of matches and winning a lot of matches.

— Jainik Shroff

“I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is adapting to the judge you’re assigned,” Shroff said. “In Lincoln-Douglas debate tournaments, two people debate each other and then there’s typically one judge. A lot of judges aren’t extremely experienced and some of them may not have debated in high school or college and may just be the parent of a debater.”

In addition to clarifying complicated issues, debaters also learn the value of hearing other points of view.

“In most cases I start out very clearly on one side, but as it progresses, I can start to see the merits of the other side as well,” Dontharaju said.

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