Spreading Kills Debate

My young padawans, you will know me as DebaterKnight. I was pleased to join Act1 as a policy debate consultant last month. Debate has been a passion of mine for nearly fifteen years. I debated throughout my years in high school and college. I attended state tournaments every year I participated in debate. Thanks greatly to the excellence expected by my coaches and the dedication of my debate partners. My participation in this event earned me an all-state jacket in Cross-Examination Debate and improved my analytical and reasoning skills tenfold. This is why the increase in spreading during policy debate rounds has infuriated me.

For those who don’t know, “spreading” is the term commonly used by debaters for speed reading. Not just speed reading, but engaging in an act resembling a cross between a seizure and hyperventilation – with a hint of Tourette syndrome.

In policy debate, we all know of the importance of evidence. You will commonly hear policy debaters asking, “Do you have a card on that?” But the overwhelming shift to the quantity of arguments rather than quality is disturbing. The spreading tactic was created by an inferior debater in an effort to sink the opposing team simply by flooding the debate with arguments and evidence. “If I just read enough arguments and evidence the other team won’t have time to respond!” What a joke. What’s even worse is that this tactic was allowed to creep into the mainstream. Progressive, liberal judges forced opposing teams to participate in the rapid fire exchange or risk dropping a ballot.
I refuse to coach teams, or allow them to participate, in spread debate. The purpose of debate and clash is destroyed and warped into a non-educational evidence dump if spread is allowed. We expect our teams here at Act1 to make QUALITY arguments and support them with QUALITY evidence - thus allowing for substantial clash and educational debates. Spreading doesn’t increase your analytical or reasoning skills. It just increases your ability to shred evidence from your lips at warp speed. There is no reasonable purpose for this in any type of argumentation.

While I do not support spreading in debate, I do not blame teams for participating. I understand that this type of behavior in the debate round is mostly to be expected. I urge all debaters to take a stand against this practice and get back to basics! Your spreading skills may still be useful. You’d be amazed at how quickly you can read (silently) evidence as you prepare for your speeches. As long as you can read and COMPREHEND the evidence during your opponent’s speech or prep time, you can make more eye contact and more effective arguments during your speech! You can easily give a synopsis of the evidence, only using key components, words and phrases as necessary.
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I say adieu for now. Keep checking back as we add more and more to our website. Do not hesitate to give us a call for any of your speech and debate needs.

Debate it or die trying.