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What does it take to win nationals (This is what I’m supposed to write about but I don’t presume to know the answer so I will tell you a few things I have learned)

A little game of True or False.

You have to network with other debaters.

TRUE, if you take away the net that leaves you with a LOT of work.  2 simple ways to do this:

1.) I know you’re homeschooled, but gosh darn it, make some friends. Also, be careful about making enemies.  You certainly will but make dumb ones that don’t write briefs. There was a certain person I met this year who, on first impression, had enough arrogance to make an Eskimo think crude oil is a scarce resource. Although Sam Wolkenhauer backed it all up by getting 8 out of 10 1st place speaker awards in a row, I still wanted to rip up a picture of his face. I resisted and later he become one of our biggest allies and turned out to be not such a bad fellow after all. In fact, the case we used to win nationals was originally his idea.

(posted with permission from the above mentioned Sr.)

2.) Write fewer BETTER briefs. This is a strategy that lends itself to trading. Go for content not amount. A few solid briefs multiply into the biggest bestest more betterest evidence stash ever. Lame briefs mean we will never trade again later in the year plus you will end up trading with only novices and your mother.

Side note: Homeschooldebate.com is not required to do this. I have had a total of 1 post (two years ago) and 2 logins and still have a healthy network as does my partner. (Although our partnerships hint to the fact that at least 1 partner should waste time on there.)

You have to be in the same club/and/or state.

False, my partner was from a 1.5 team club in California. I am from Maryland where I attend a Virginia club that had 5 teams at nationals. So be flexible if you are partners, soul mates… or desperate.

You have to be flexible with your partner.

True, this is a huge key to a healthy partnership and opens the door to more effective and complex strategies. My partner and I both came from partnerships where we were 2A… one of us (I) had to flex and learn 1ARs. Another example would be that we switched negative speaker positions for the first time the whole year our 6th round at nationals. It just went with our strategy of running a topical counter plan with a lot of evidence better with me as the 1N. We won and it was awesome that we could just flex like that.

You have to run a conservative case that homeschool moms will be politically inclined to vote for and you MUST above all quote Ronald Reagan, CATO and/or Heritage 17 times in your 1AC.

False, we had 2 cases the entire season both of which were liberal and both of which did not facilitate less government regulation but in fact funded and expanded government programs. Run cases that make SENSE, Cases that could ACTUALLY happen with the current state of our government and political climate. I see 2 sports going on in NCFCA and STOA debate. 1.) Debate. (gasp) Finding a clear position on a policy and supporting it with reasonable evidence. 2.) Case choosing. Who can chose a case that is most conservative or libertarian. (On your mark, get set, welcome to half your neg’ rounds) This frustrates me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Be wise, let it be a good idea, give all judges something to hang their hat on, sure, but don’t just be a political pawn… use your brain. Learn to appeal to and convince conservatives, neo-conservatives, conservatives- conservatives, liberals, libertarians, people that think 9/11 was George Bush, People that we are glad to hear think at all, basically anything short of an unreasonable inanimate object.

You have to have evidence or a brief to win a neg.

Okay whoever said that just leave, here is a shovel. No wait stay! This post is supposed to help people. You my friend need help. Many times this year we went into rounds getting looks from our friends like you poor kids are about to get eaten by the ‘do you have a card for your logical argument?’ monster. Then we would come out of those rounds with 29s or 30s on speaks and a win. Sure, you will lose some, and even sound like you don’t know what you are talking about in the constructives (cause you don’t). That said, these are just as easy and sometimes easier to win. A few things to remember:

1.)    Evidence is support for a position and NOT strictly a card. Your authority, no matter if he is a staff writer for the ‘10 Buck 2 Post’ or has more PhDs than there are seats in your family van, MUST SUPPORT HIS POSITION WITH LOGIC AND FACTS. PhDs say STUPID things all the time. Reporters can misconstrue facts to make an article more interesting. Think tanks get handed millions to believe something even if it’s preposterous. Your job is to take better logic and actual facts and drown out that laundry list of credentials for an author that made a ridiculous claim. Set up DAs and significance points or whatever you want with logic and basic information. Make a PhD look dumb for saying what he said because it was dumb and you only need to be able to comprehend what you read to see that.

2.) I think one of the reasons these rounds are easier is you end up having no choice but to look closely at their bad evidence. READ THE PARTS THAT AREN’T UNDERLINED, ALL CAPS, IN SIZE 20 FONT, BOLD AND LIT ON FIRE. There is no better feeling than beating someone with their own evidence. It is an intellectual ninja move.

3.)    Brand new cases: if it’s a brand new case it has not been thoroughly tested upon the open seas. Arrrgggg. Sink it. There are probably lots of holes.

4.)    Squirrel cases: it is likely that someone did know about the squirrel but didn’t find much on it. Squirrel cases are usually on the fringes of the resolution. Chances are there isn’t much information on it for either the aff or neg. This means there are lots of holes in the case and it means that they often will be arguing certain points without evidence. Point out the hypocrisy when they say that you didn’t read any evidence so therefore your points are mute and the rest of the round is theatrics.

Disclaimer: A.) this is in reference to your basic squirrel case or brand new cases. You should have evidence or friends with evidence on common or old cases. B.) A general understanding of matters that pertain to the resolution is helpful.

Peace Up Debate Town Down,

Josiah McPeak

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