Debate League FAQs
Can you describe a typical member?
Debate League attracts families and children (from 10-17) who value the development of debating skills but don’t have the hours or funds available to devote to a competitive regional or national school debate program. Debate League caters to the busy student who enjoys learning, practicing, and developing the skills of debate without an overwhelming time commitment.
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).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there a “best” time of year to join Debate League?
The best time to join is when there is an opening in the club. Membership is limited to 16. After that, we add names to a waiting list. To find out if there is space in your desired club, call or text 214-972-8046 or email email@example.com.
How do you integrate new members into an ongoing club?
We have a series of activities, videos, and take-home work for new members to get them caught up on the basics. Typically new members are able to jump right into impromptu sparring debates (at which they will improve, with experience), and of course games don’t require special experience.
I’m not 10 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. Membership is monthly, so if it’s not a good fit, you can easily withdraw.
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 primarily draw from 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.
Why did we choose to draw primarily from Public Forum debate?
Simply put, the skills learned in Public Forum transfer easily to other forms of debate.
In Debate League we use a modified version of the Public Forum format, that has 1-3 member teams presenting a Case, a Rebuttal, two Crossfires, and a Final Focus.
How do members prepare for their debates?
Much of a debater’s success is based on the preparation that goes in before the debate begins. In sparring that often means quick thinking and creativity. For debates prepared between meetings, success usually hinges on research, strong arguments with evidence, anticipation of the opponents’ arguments, and a compelling explanation for how the debate should be judged.
We teach members to 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.
Why do you say Debate League clubs are “recreational”?
While members learn key elements and techniques of debate, at Debate League it is not the all-consuming activity it can be with school programs, and the like.
Here are four reasons why Debate League “recreational” debate can be the right choice for your child:
- Most school programs involve 10-20 (or more) hours per month at their afterschool meetings plus countless hours preparing at home for that month’s topic. Debate League meets just twice per month for 2-hours each, and between-meeting prep might be 1-3 hours, giving your child more time for their other activities.
- Most school programs involve preparing for that month’s nationally-assigned debate topic. The topics are often heavy and have limited interest to youngsters. For example two options for September 2018 are Resolved: The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations, and Resolved: The United States should end its arms sales to Taiwan. At Debate League the kids get to choose topics that interest them, making them more likely to put in the effort to do well.
- Most school programs end up focusing on preparing the top debaters on their teams for regional tournaments, leaving novice debaters to fend for themselves. At Debate League, usually everyone debates at every meeting and receives the same level of feedback from the coach.
- Most school programs involve expensive travel to competitions. At Debate League our dues are reasonable and the members compete on fun topics at every meeting. They also have the option to compete in an inter-club debate tournament (between Debate League clubs) at our annual SLAM regional conference held on the second Saturday in June.
With Debate League you wind up with
more fun, more time, and more money.
Is there a member handbook or textbook provided?
All of our members are provided our proprietary Debate League Quick Guide.
What should members bring to the meeting?
We encourage members to bring their Quick Guide, notebook paper, and, if possible, a cellular-connected research device, e.g. laptop, smartphone, or tablet, to each meeting. Where possible, we will provide wifi access.
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, on the other hand, is a recreational club, meeting only three hours per month.
The result of this reduced training and practice time is that, rather than focusing on monthly debates and outside tournaments, we focus on intra-club debate and one inter-club tournament (against other Debate League clubs) at the SLAM conference, which is held on the third Saturday in June.
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, $50 registration/materials fee per child when you join a Debate League club. Dues, if paid annually, are $275. If you would prefer a month-to-month arrangement, you may opt to pay dues of $25 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 $275 per year all at once, or $300 per year in $25/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. As long as you are not receiving a different promotion, 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. Some adjustments are made to the schedule when holidays conflict.
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 Quick Guide will be provided at your first meeting.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 214-972-8046.