I have a much broader perspective of academic speech and debate than most. While the typical coach or student narrows their peripheral vision to just their league, I have an inherent need to stay flexible. So I created a Google Spreadsheet to explain the diversity among the three leagues I focus most on: NSDA, NCFCA and Stoa.
There are many organizations and leagues in America that offer students a great amount of opportunity to compete in academic speech and debate events, but there are three that dominate in five key offerings:
- Both speech and debate events. There are organizations (like 4H) that offer only speech, and other organizations (like the Urban Debate League) that offer only debate. I believe speech and debate — the art of forensics communication — is one sport, and the sport offers unique educational opportunities for organizations that encourage both.
- An open market for like-minded organizations. Some organizations (like Toastmasters and Cultural Communicators) box in their market to only the organization’s materials, making it impossible for other entities (like mine) to participate. I believe an open market with tons of 3rd party competition make a much better learning environment.
- A national invitational. Local, state, chapter, and regional tournaments are great, but one big kahuna at the end of the year sets the three leagues apart. And this cannot just allow anyone. Students need to earn their way to their national invitational.
- A governance dedicated to speech and debate. Some forensics organizations have purposes beyond speech and debate. I believe the best leagues stay focused on speech and debate alone. Administrators know that S&D is what they are administrating, and members know S&D is what they’re participating in.
- A sizable representation of students. There are several offshoots to the leagues below, but there is power in unity. All three of the leagues that I focus on have a strong number of multitudes that make things easier and fun.
To view in a Google Document, click here.