ABOUT OUR DEBATE TOURNAMENTS!
What is the NYCUDL?
NYCUDL is short for the New York City Urban Debate League. We are a non-profit organization serving New York City students, grades 4 to 12. The NYCUDL is the largest debate league in America serving thousands of students each year. Our mission is every school should have a debate team and every student should have access to the best debate education opportunities. Since Ancient Greece, debate has been one of the most powerful academic programs to teach students every academic skill – public speaking, research, evidence based argumentation, critical thinking, reading, writing, listening, questioning and more. Debate teaches every academic subject including political science, public policy, current events, geography, civics, international affairs, economics, philosophy, critical theory, technology and more. Debate teaches 21st century skills in communication, collaboration, critical reasoning and more. And most of all debate is just fun! We at NYCUDL love seeing how excited students are engaged in a positive activity like debate all day on a Saturday – and how much they grow, increase their confidence, learn diverse perspectives, and propose powerful ideas and public policies.
WHO IS COMPETING TODAY?
We host tournaments nearly every Saturday during the school year. Students from schools across NYC come together on a Saturday to compete against their peers form other schools. Our tournaments are open to all schools. Each school has a debate squad made up of several debate teams. Each team has 2-3 students depending on the debate format. There are two students on each team in Public Forum and Policy Debate events. There are up to three students on a Parliamentary Debate team. The squad at each school is coached by a teacher or other qualified adult. The squad prepares in class or after school for weeks in advance of each tournament. Most often topics are announced one month ahead of the tournament and so squads have about a month to research the topic and prepare their cases and arguments for the tournament.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A TOURNAMENT?
At a tournament there are three or four rounds of debate, each lasting about an hour. Each team will have to debate both sides of every issue. The outcome of debate is determined by a citizen judge who renders a decision. The outcome of the debate will not be shared at the end of the round, but students will receive oral feedback from judges who try to include both something positive and something constructive. Students will learn how they did in each round at the end of the day. Every New York City Urban Debate League tournament ends with a big celebration at an awards ceremony where students receive recognition for their successes.
WHY DOES IT TAKE SO LONG TO GET THINGS STARTED IN THE MORNING? WHAT ARE ALL THE DELAYS?
Our goal is to allow as many students as possible to compete and reap the benefits of debate. Debate tournaments, like most large events that include a lot of people, have many moving parts. First, the majority of our students use public transportation to arrive at the location from near and far. Often on weekends there is track work and other delays. Second, there is a computer system that keeps track of all of the students who are debating and records their wins/losses and points earned in every round. Each participating student and all of the judges’ feedback need to be accurately entered into the database throughout the tournament. We enter most students into the computer in advance of the tournament based on lists provided to us by the teachers. However, on tournament day there are many changes. Some students are unable to attend, while others who weren’t expected show up to participate. It takes time to get the information into the computer correctly so that we can accurately determine the results at the end of the day. As you are waiting, we are working hard behind the scenes to get it right. The fewer changes to be made the faster things can go.
AM I ALLOWED TO WATCH MY CHILD?
Yes! We are so happy to have parents, grandparents, friends and relatives come to our tournaments to support their kids. Please find a NYCUDL staff member (usually in a bright color “NYC Debate” shirt) who is working at the tournament and they will be able to help you find the rooms where your child is debating during each round. Once students enter the tournament classroom, parents and guests may not provide extra ‘coaching’ from the sidelines or be in any way disruptive or the round could be forfeited.
CAN PARENTS AND GUESTS EAT WITH THE KIDS?
Yes, you are welcome to enjoy our breakfast and lunch along with the students! And also more than welcome to help out at breakfast!
HOW DO I FIND THEIR DEBATE ROOM? HOW DO I READ THE PAIRING THAT IS POSTED?
Students are paired against kids from other schools and a pairing sheet is posted on the wall before each round. The pairing sheet will have your child’s name and school and will list the room where the debate round will take place. Students are to report to the room that is listed as quickly as possible. Students are identified by the first letter of their last name and the first letter of their debate partner’s last name and are listed with the name of their school. So the team of Matthew Smith and Tonya Harris from Mt. Royal Middle will be listed as “SH” or “HS” along with the school name. It will also help to know which debate event they are debating in – parliamentary debate, public forum debate, policy debate and their division - Rookie (1st year), novice (beginner) or varsity (more experienced) because these groups are listed separately on the posted pairing sheets. Ask us if you need help!
WHERE CAN I FIND THE ROUND PAIRINGS – PAPER AND PAPERLESS!
These round pairings are posted throughout the building including the Judges Room, Cafeteria, Registration Desk, and delivered to the classrooms where students are debating in. If you have an internet connected device (computer, smartphone, etc) you can also view the postings online at www.speechwire.com/live or you can visit www.speechwire.com and scroll down to the “New York City Urban Debate League.” You can also select several teams to track during the tournament so a message will be sent to you when your child’s rounds have been announced.
WHY ARE THERE WORKSHOPS AT THE END OF THE DAY BEFORE AWARDS?
At the end of the last round our staff is working hard to enter the outcome of the last debate round into the computer, which tabulates the results and determines the top speakers and teams of the day. We need time to get the results organized so that kids receive the credit they deserve. This can take 30 minutes or so from the time the last ballot gets turned back in to the tabulation room. During this time we have elective debate workshops available for students. Since there are so many alumni, debaters, and teachers volunteering at our tournaments with so much debate experience – it’s a perfect opportunity for debaters to share their passion by teaching a workshop to a new generation of debaters! We have held workshops on the topics, general debate skills, the art of cross-examination, Girls Debate, Impact Calculation and more!
HOW CAN I HELP THE NEW YORK CITY URBAN DEBATE LEAGUE?
There are many ways to help the NYCUDL:
- Help ensure that your child attends our tournaments and does not let their teammates down by not showing up.
- Come out and support our students by watching their rounds.
- Ask your child’s debate coach how you can support the team with judging, snacks, etc.
- Volunteer to be a Debate Judge. We are always in need of judges for our debate rounds. Having enough judges means all of the students who have worked hard have a chance to compete. Come to a judge training on the day of the tournament at 9:00am and let us know you can judge.
- Make a monetary donation. NYCUDL is a non profit organization that prides itself on being available to every child. We raise money all year long to be able to give as many students as possible this opportunity. Consider making a donation to the League or simply donate your time by judging at our tournaments.
- Let us know your ideas. Let us know how you might share your talents, skills and interests to make the League better. We are eager to have you help in a manner that is meaningful to you.
- Spread the word about NYCUDL’s work to friends, principals, potential supporters. The more people who hear about us the more students we will be able to reach!
WHEN ARE DEBATE TOURNAMENTS?
Our tournaments are year round and nearly every week. During the school year nearly all our tournaments are on Saturdays because a typical debate tournament is an all day event with at least three rounds of debate, breakfast, lunch, workshops, and an awards ceremony. However, we do have monthly "debate nights" that take place on weekday evenings as well as several tournaments on weekdays. But over 90% of our tournaments are on Saturdays. During summers we continue tournaments but they usually fall on a Friday weekday.
WHAT'S THE SCHEDULE FOR A MIDDLE SCHOOL TOURNAMENT>
Middle School Sample Tournament Schedule (Public Forum and Policy Debate Events) 8:00am – Breakfast and Registration 9:00am – Registration ends 9:00am – Opening Ceremony 9:30am – Prep Rooms 10:30am– Round 1 11:30am – Lunch 12:30pm – Round 2 1:30pm – Round 3 2:30pm – Round 4 Finals & Workshops 3:30pm – Award Ceremony 4:00pm –Departure
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR A HIGH SCHOOL TOURNAMENT?
8:30am - 9:30am - Registration and Breakfast 9:00am - Registration Closes Policy Debate Schedule 10:00am - Round 1 12:00pm -Round 2 2:00pm - Lunch 3:00pm - Round 3 (Power Matched) 5:00pm - Workshops 6:00pm - Awards 6:30pm - Departure Public Forum Debate Schedule 10:00am - Round 1 11:00am - Round 2 12:00pm - Round 3 1:00pm - Lunch 2:00pm - Round 4 (Power Matched) 3:00pm – Round 5 (for undefeated teams) 5:00pm - Workshops 6:00pm - Awards Ceremony 6:30pm - Departure Parliamentary / Worlds Debate Schedule 10:30am – Round 1 – Prep Time Starts: 10:10am 12:00pm – Round 2 – Prep Time Starts: 11:40am 2:00pm – Round 3 – Prep Time Starts: 1:40pm 5:00pm – Workshops 6:00pm – Awards 6:30pm – Departure