By Taylor Fang, Student Writer
The Logan High Speech and Debate team is hard at work, after narrowly finishing second at the Region 12 tournament on February 24th. On March 2nd, which happens to be designated National Speech and Debate Education Day, the debaters will be competing at Ridgeline High School to qualify for the National Tournament. You might see some posters about the day around the school. The week after that, they will be competing at the two-day 4A State Tournament at Salem Hills High School. Debate is a very active extracurricular activity at Logan High, however, not a lot of people know what debaters do.
Speech and debate, also known as forensics, is actually the largest academic competitive activity in the country, according to The Golden State Academy. Similar to sports (in Utah, debate is a part of UHSAA, and students are also drug tested), debate is competitive and requires practice, coaching, and dedication. There are many different events, and the region and state tournament comprises of eight: three “debate” events, and the other five which are generally categorized as “speech” events. Each event features a different form of public speaking; for example, some work in partnerships, and another works in a “Congress” format with multiple students and schools in a single round.
Every event has a structure of speaking order and time limits. Debate events center around a topic, which changes either once a month, once every two months, or once a year. Topics are about current issues, both national and global. Recent examples debated this year include: universal background checks for handguns in the US, education reform and funding, Catalonian independence from Spain, NCAA student athlete wages, and humanitarian assistance, among others.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a naturally good public speaker, or an argumentative person, to join debate. Debate isn’t just people arguing with each other, and you can vastly improve how comfortable you are with public speaking after joining. Forensics sharpens your ability to think and listen, and to articulate your thoughts persuasively. You get to advocate about issues that matter to you; debaters often present cases on structural oppression, racism, and patriarchy. There are a wide variety of events that you can tailor to fit your interests.
Debate also helps you write essays and take tests, due to drastically improving linguistic skills and the ability to quickly process information. Colleges love students in debate, according to Professor Minh A. Luong of Yale University. Finally, the speech and debate team is a supportive place, and you get to meet cool people from across Utah and the nation (Logan’s team went to the University of California, Berkeley tournament this year).
However, debate is hard work, and it can take a lot of time and dedication. In the end, most debaters would agree that it’s worth it: it’s fun and exciting to go to tournaments, the team spirit is strong, and you learn a ton about what’s going on in the world. If you’re interested in joining next year, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, talk to Mr. Unsworth (Logan’s speech and debate coach) or sign up for the debate class with your counselor.