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It was quarterfinals, India year, at the first tournament of my life. We were NEG against food aid reform. We had beaten the Blue Book version several times, and were hoping this would be no different. As the 1AC opened with the infamous sob story about “Raju” and his family going hungry, my partner and I looked at each other and grinned. I jumped up for my 1NC, mitigated a few harms, and went straight into our killer disadvantage: AFF plan cuts in-kind food aid, which devastates farmers. It was all going so splendidly.

Then the 1A got up for cross-examination. It went something like this:

A: You have our plan up here, right?
N: Yes.
A: Can you re-read our third mandate?
N: Sure. One sec.
N: “All food aid will be given in the form of cash to agencies for the purchase of food locally or regionally, or directly to the poor to purchase food for themselves. Additionally, the same amount of money will be given to the American farmers in the form of a subsidy.
A: Thank you.

I had never felt more stupid in my life. Had I flowed more closely, we could have picked up that this AFF wasn’t stupid and they were planning on spiking out a disadvantage that everyone was running.

This wasn’t the only time it’s happened to me. More likely than not, it’s happened to you multiple times as well. Listen to every detail. Flow each argument. The one detail you do not hear or do not flow could cost you dearly.

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