The short answer to this question is: absolutely!
There are many, many things that people can get from debating, especially at the novice level. I focus on two benefits of debate that should convince anyone that if they haven’t tried debate, they should.
First of all, debating is lots of fun. Debate is a kind of intellectually stimulating competition that is unparalleled in any other type of activity and it’s also a great way to meet new people and make lifelong friends. We get to travel around the country debating with and around a great community of people and honestly, if I had lost every one of my debates throughout my debate career I still would have stuck around. The people are just that awesome.
I first started debate as a novice in college and I was pretty worried that I was going to lose all of my debates at my first tournament. I did, in fact, lose all but one of my debates but had a total blast and was definitely hooked. The competition was really intense, I learned something new in every one of my debates, got to walk around the beautiful campus at the University of Richmond, and met great people that I still consider my friends today. (I wish I could adequately describe what it feels like to debate, saying that the competition is intense just doesn’t do it justice.)
Debate also teaches really useful research and speaking skills. One of my favorite things about policy debate is that it teaches you how to do really in depth research about a topic that you probably won’t have much exposure to in your coursework. For instance, the topic this year revolves around whether or not the United States should reduce the size, role or missions of its nuclear arsenal. Even an international affairs major is unlikely to be exposed to the depth of research about this topic, as we discuss a range of proposals from changing targeting strategy to eliminating a portion of the nuclear triad.
The research that we do is just the beginning. Debating involves evaluating the arguments that we have prepared in relation to the arguments of our opponents. Debate provides the perfect forum for developing good argumentative practice and fostering critical thinking skills that are useful for everyone but particularly for those individuals with a future in law or business.
So, moral of the story is….join the debate team. We’re awesome.
Published in: Novice Debate