Debaters affected by pandemic

Debaters affected by pandemic

Ava Olson, Reporter

Sports, clubs, and other extracurriculars have all been affected by COVID restrictions differently. While these are all optional activities, some students can not avoid these changes because of the courses they are enrolled in. Classes like forensics and debate have had to adapt to restrictions outside of the classroom as well as inside.

Debate tournaments are now being held online to prevent spreading the virus and to keep everyone healthy. Some aspects of online debate seems appealing to the students, like less traveling, but other aspects of online debate are unwanted. For example, technology can always cause issues with connecting to virtual meetings.

“I think it would be easier to debate without restrictions,” sophomore Lindsey Warsnak said. “Change is never easy.”

In previous years, weekend debate tournaments began by students loading a bus or van early in the morning and heading to the school where the tournament was being held. Every student has one partner but that is subject to change throughout the semester. Each pair has five, 90 minute rounds throughout the day either for or against a case. A few months prior to every season, a new topic is decided. For example, this year’s topic is criminal justice reform.

“Debate is probably a lot different then it has been in previous years because everything is now online,” freshman Claudia Henriquez said.

Debate tournaments are held online using the program NSDA, which works similarly to Zoom or Google Meets. The main difference between online and in person debate tournaments is the location. Unless a student is quarantined, they will show up to their high school to participate. Students will complete the same amount of rounds with the same time limits as they would in person. This alternative form of hosting tournaments has both positive and negative aspects.

“I miss getting to teach younger debaters about how we act,” debate teacher David Williams said. “Getting to spend time as a team on trips is part of the team bonding element of debate.”

There are many possible obstacles that you can run into when trying to debate online, but the technological issues according to Williams are not the worst part of online debate. Williams looks forward to making connections with his students and seeing them improve throughout the year. Many students look forward to traveling and getting to know and bond with others on the team. This year, there is much less contact between debaters, so forming connections with others on the team will not be as easy as it has been in previous years. However, there are also downsides to in person debating.

“Planning in advance is very difficult as the board may change the way we attend from week to week or even day to day if things get very challenging,” Williams said.

In person debate can be expensive. Transportation, food, and lodging all cost money when attending tournaments. When students are not traveling to and from tournaments most weekends, it saves quite a bit of money. It can also be more difficult to keep track of students and times when events are held while in person. Although the 2020 debate season faces many obstacles, debaters are thankful that their season is able to be held and has not been affected too drastically.

“It’s just an extra obstacle, nothing more,” sophomore Ethan Otter said.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email