Debate League FAQs
What are some helpful qualities for a child considering Debate League?
- Ability to pay attention, process verbal information quickly, and to pick up the meaning of words from context.
- Strong handwriting skills (or use of a device with strong keyboarding skills).
- An expressed interest in debate, preferably with an interest in, or curiosity about, world or political affairs.
- A self-starter who takes personal responsibility for results.
- Good public speaking skills (if not, it may be a good idea to join a Speakers League club in addition to Debate League).
- Has a competitive streak.
- Works well with others.
Are there other helpful elements for Debate League success?
- Capability and access to do independent research.
- Can bring a device for research to club meetings (e.g. smartphone, tablet).
Do I have to take the "Intro to Public Forum Debate" workshop/camp or "Level I Public Forum Debate Intensive" before I join Debate League?
Generally, yes, at least the Intro workshop or camp. However, exceptions can be made for individuals with previous debate experience. We like to see videos of debates you've participated in to determine readiness. We have the prerequisite to limit the amount of time catching new members up on the debate format when they join a club.
Should I join Junior Debate League or the regular Debate League?
That's up to you. Junior Debate League involves less-demanding "sparring debates" on simple topics like velcro vs. laces, and Whataburger vs. In-N-Out, rather than full, researched debates. It's more about having fun, while still developing quick thinking and creativity. There are games and other activities at the meetings.
Debate League is for the kids that are serious about learning the activity. Debate League members thrive on the competition, and take initiative to dive deep into their topics. Teammates learn about themselves and each other as they work hard, together. Debate League members often go on to debate in high school or college. There is significantly more prep work in Debate League, compared to Junior Debate League.
Can I visit a club meeting before I decide about joining?
Yes, you are welcome to visit the group to “check us out.” Guests are seated with the members, and are sometimes given the option to participate in some of the meeting's activities. To arrange for a visit, call or text us at 214-972-8046, or email email@example.com.
Is there a "best" time of year to join Debate League?
It is best to join shortly after completing an "Intro to Public Forum Debate" workshop or camp (which is a prerequisite for joining a club). The information will be fresh in your mind, and regardless of where the club is in debate prep for our tournaments, you can be helpful to an existing team, or team up with another solo member. Membership is limited to 20. After that, we add names to a waiting list.
How do you integrate new members into an ongoing club?
The "Intro to Public Forum Debate" workshop prerequisite makes the transition into a club very easy. Junior Debate League is a sort of continuation of the Intro workshop. If joining a regular Debate League club, most new members opt to compete as soon as a partner is available. Others initially opt to assist a team in tournament-prep, helping with research, argument writing, and block writing.
I'm not 12 yet. Can I still join?
Look at the first FAQ above to get a general idea of whether you already have traits considered helpful for debate. That's a great start. What will determine if you are a good fit is if you can grasp the material and implement the techniques you are learning. If, after joining, you feel out of your depth, you can transfer to Junior Debate League, or switch to Speakers League while you continue to develop your presentation skills.
I'll be turning 18 this year. Can I still join?
You may stay in Debate League until you graduate high school or turn 19, whichever is later.
What style of debate do you use in Debate League?
The style of debate we focus on in Debate League is called Public Forum. Public Forum involves teams of two, debating the pros and cons of a proposal, called a "resolution." Each speaker has a chance to speak twice and is involved in two "crossfire" questioning segments.
To prepare for a Public Forum debate, we examine the resolution, determine the issues at play, structure arguments and rebuttals, plan for effective cross-examination, conduct evidence research, crystallize/summarize the state of a debate, cite impacts, learn how to identify and combat logical fallacies, and understand the elements of judging. Members are usually called upon to debate BOTH sides of an argument and must prepare for both.
See image below for more details on the format.
Is there a member handbook or textbook provided?
All of our members are provided with Beyond Resolved: A Public Forum Debate Manual when they join. This book nicely outlines the format and the details of the style. When necessary, other handouts are provided. We also provide our proprietary Debate League Public Forum Quick Guide.
What should members bring to the meeting?
We encourage members to bring their textbook, a notebook with paper, and, if possible, a cellular-connected research device, e.g. laptop, smartphone, or tablet, to each meeting.
Do members argue respectfully?
At Debate League, members learn and communicate in a persuasive and respectful way. We follow the H.E.R.O. code of conduct:
- Honest - Arguments should not mislead or distort the truth. Statistics and sources must be accurate and never made up.
- Equal - While we may not agree on topics, each side of a debate, and each member, is presumed to have the dignity of an equally valid voice
- Respectful - Members, parents, and coaches do NOT engage in belittling, bullying, rude, or nasty behavior/commentary toward members or their families. Timely responses between teammates and coaches is expected.
- Open-minded - Members, and parents acting as judges, will not pre-judge based on the topic, but will instead focus on the relative success of teams to prove the arguments on their side of the proposition through providing clear contentions, evidence, and impacts.
Where do the clubs compete?
Many public and private school debate teams meet for 4-6 hours per week, giving them tons of time with coaches to prep for full, monthly debates and multiple outside tournaments. Debate League and Junior Debate League, on the other hand, only meet "in class" for 4-hours per month, supplemented with training videos.
The result of this reduced training and practice time is that, rather than focusing on monthly debates and outside tournaments, we focus on two inter-club tournaments per school year, and one intra-club tournament. Debate League inter-club tournaments include the Winter Classic, which is held over three days during the second week of December, and the SLAM tournament, which is held on the second Saturday in June. Intra-club tournaments are held in March.
Outside tournaments may be made available, but only to experienced debate partners willing to put in the significant outside time necessary to prepare.
Should I do Speakers League instead of, or in addition to, Debate League?
Success in debate is a combination of preparation and presentation, leading to perceptual dominance by one team over the other. While the words are the most important part of debate, judges are also influenced by excellent presentation. Speakers League focuses on impromptu speaking, presentation techniques, and critical evaluation, all indispensable skills in debate.
How much does it cost to join?
There is a one-time, non-refundable, $75 registration/materials fee per child when you join a Debate League club. Dues, if paid annually, are $420. If you would prefer a month-to-month arrangement, you may opt to pay dues of $40 per month, year-round, until you withdraw from the club.
Are dues, fees, or tuition refundable?
There are no refunds for club registration fees or dues, once paid. For camps, workshops, and short-term classes, a full refund can be made up to 30 days before the first session; a full refund less $100 can be made up to 72 hours before the first session. No refunds will be made within 72 hours of the first session.
Why are monthly dues collected during the summer when the club doesn’t meet?
All of our Debate League dues are essentially annual. You can either pay $420 per year all at once, or $480 per year in $40/month increments. There are three reasons for this:
- We found that parents like the flexibility of a paying a smaller month-to-month figure, especially because dues are non-refundable.
- We found that stability in our membership was enhanced by a year-round arrangement.
- We are able to keep our dues lower because there is less paperwork, staffing, and marketing involved in managing membership.
Is there a sibling discount?
Yes. Siblings in the same club or camp/class receive a 10% discount on both registration and dues. Use the promo code “SIBLINGS” on your online order form.
What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and PayPal for our monthly payment option. If you are paying annually, you may use these same methods, as well as cash or checks.
What do my payments cover?
Any registration fees, tuition, or dues cover such items as room rentals, equipment and supplies, trophies, staffing, videotaping, database entry, textbooks, forms, etc.
How often do the clubs meet?
Debate League clubs meet twice per month between September and May, plus our annual conference on the second Saturday in June. Typically, we conduct single double-meetings in November and December, to avoid holiday weeks.
Do I have to come to every meeting?
No. However, it is a good idea to request that someone take notes for you of what happened at the meeting.
How do I withdraw from the club?
You may withdraw your child from the club at any time by notifying the coach. Payments made up to that point are non-refundable. Future scheduled payments are immediately halted.
Do you offer financial aid?
If you feel that you cannot participate in Debate League without financial assistance, we are able to make special arrangements for families that request it. We offer partial scholarships, and they are based solely on need, not merit. To request a scholarship, we ask that the parent submit a statement in writing, or verbally, describing the reason assistance is desired, and what amount is requested. Members/parents who receive scholarship assistance may be asked to contribute volunteer time, on occasion.
When we are ready to join, what should we do?
The quickest way to join is through our online enrollment portal at this link. (If you are requesting financial aid, contact us at the email or phone number at the bottom of this page, and a different ordering method will be used.)
What happens after my child joins?
Once you have paid and completed our online member data form, an automated, short series of emails will start to come to you to help your child get ready for the club. The textbook will be provided by mail or at your first meeting.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-972-8046.