Oct 20, 2009

the "point of order" in LD debate

We've all seen it happen: the LD round is wrapping up as the affirmative offers a breathless set of rebuttals and voting issues. The Neg, meanwhile, is doodling on the flow, pretending to be engaged and attentive. All of a sudden, the Neg's ears prick up. What's that? A new argument in the 2AR? This cannot be!

Frequent commentator oceanix asks,
...so in LD, if I'm the negative, is there any way I can say the Aff is out of order for making new points in his or her last speech that I can't refute? Thanks.
Yes there is. The rules specifically state:
The negative team shall not be denied the right to rise to a point of order after the closing affirmative rebuttal. However, if they argue the point instead of stating the point, they shall be heavily penalized on the point. In this contingency, final disposition of the matter shall rest entirely with the judge. In general, this practice is to be discouraged.
So, in other words, if you stand to protest, you do so at your own risk. And this is right: after all, you should trust that the judge understands the rules, and knows that new arguments in the 2AR are forbidden.

Do note that the rules call for a heavy penalty if you "argue the point." Suppose you decide to risk it and cry foul. How do you protest properly?
Bad Example
"The Affirmative made new arguments about [fill in the blank] in the 2AR. The Aff is a cheater! Cheater cheater pumpkin eater."

Good Example
"I rise for a point of order. The Affirmative has made a new argument in the 2AR."
That's it. Keep it short and sweet, and let the judge do the sorting-out. After all, it's her prerogative.


oceanix said...


oceanix said...

Is there some place I could find the rules of LD?

Jim Anderson said...

Official NFL rules are available as part of the "National Tournament Manual," found here [pdf]. It does change from year to year, though, and it's a bit of a slog.

And debaters should always check to see if NFL rules are upheld at local or state contests.

Anonymous said...

This is fascinating; I've never seen or heard of it happening. Still, how do we know most judges know what the NFL rules are? If they know the handbook that well won't they already know to exclude new info?

Also, isn't the NFL National Tournament Manual only for the NFL National Tournament?

Jim Anderson said...

WasOnce, that's why you should always determine in advance whether your local or regional tournament follows NFL rules. (The national tournament manual includes the rules for events--which are the same at qualifiers--plus the specific regulations and procedures for running the tournament.)

And it's always good to ask a judge what they expect in a good debate round; it's the polite way to let us talk about our experience as a judge, without phrasing it in the robotic and doofy-sounding "What's your paradigm?"

Melissa said...

Thank you for this. I've always wondered if there was a way to prevent the Aff from doing so.

I also have a question. Local contests don't automatically lead to state contests, correct?

It seems like my county debate league just ends its tournaments each March. The county champions never advance any further ...


Jim Anderson said...

That depends on the state. In Washington, certain larger tournaments, for finalists (or sometimes semifinalists) merit an automatic bid.