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Back in 2013, before I had ever done any speech and debate, and when my family was first considering joining the NCFCA, we had a meeting with the founder of the club we were going to join. During this meeting she went over lots of things concerning how debate works, the benefits of it, how fun tournaments were and the like. But one thing she focused on was how great the community was in region 9 and how happy people were to freely share their arguments and evidence with even their stiffest competition. And this is something I continued to see after I joined and started debating; experienced debaters were happy to share their arguments, their examples, and their sources. Region 9 had at least one person in the final round at Nationals in LD every year that I competed, and I and some others in my region partly attributed that to the way we shared evidence. Now, I understand that there can be some hesitancy to share evidence; after all, you worked hard to find it, and the person you’re sharing it with didn’t, but in this article I hope to show the benefits of sharing evidence without expecting anything in return.

A Rising Tide Lifts all Boats

During one of my earlier years in debate, the best team in my region went around at a tournament handing out briefs against their own case. Why? They wanted competition! Like iron sharpening iron, the better your debate opponent is, the more you will improve by debating them. Sharing your arguments and evidence with your opponent may give them an advantage in the short term, but in the long run it will provide you with the strong and well-prepared opponents you need to become the best debater you can. This holds true especially in smaller groups like clubs, evidence rings, and sometimes even your regions where you’ll have multiple chances to debate against, poke holes in, and give feedback on each other’s cases.

Promotes a Community of Sharing

When debaters chose to share their evidence and arguments with me, I generally chose to share my evidence in return, and I wasn’t the only one. I found that often when people freely shared their evidence, not only would most people willingly share their evidence in return, but they were more likely to share their evidence with others as well. What goes around comes around, and because I was willing to freely share my evidence with other debaters, many were willing to freely share their evidence with me. And sometimes I shared more evidence than I received and sometimes I received more evidence than I shared, but regardless, it was practically always, in some way, beneficial for everyone.

It Helps the Person You Shared With

Oftentimes when we talk about sharing evidence, we can ignore or even view the benefit it could have for the other person negatively. And while I understand that they are your competition and that winning really does matter in some situations (for example, in scholarship competitions), for most debaters, we shouldn’t let winning get in the way of helping others. While, yes, winning does feel good and show how hard you’ve worked, it’s not more important than the skills you’ve developed, the relationships you’ve built, or the people you’ve helped. 

D. J. an economics major at North Carolina State University. Her debate philosophy is that debate should be fun for everyone, so keep it ethical so your opponent can enjoy the round, keep it entertaining so the judge enjoys it, and keep it lively and humorous so you can enjoy the round too. To learn more about D. J. you can read her bio here: https://www.ethosdebate.com/djmendenhall/ or book coaching with her here: https://www.ethosdebate.com/xl-3/

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