When I was in high school, I was an intense (I mean, really intense) debater, and, now, that I’ve graduated, I kind of stopped. It’s strange to have something take up basically your entire life and then have it immediately disappear a couple months later.
Well, not completely disappear.
I go back. Not to high school. I hated high school. I go back to see the people I like. Which is the debate team.
Because obviously, they were my “life”.
Now, a debate works like this: high schools come to a tournament, and everyone on the team is put into pairs to debate together against other pairs from other high schools. In each round, there’s a judge, and the judge is usually a coach or a former debater (sometimes college student). And, as a judge, we get paid to come back and work on the weekends to watch these debates.
Now, it’s definitely not easy to be a judge, but it’s a lot easier than debating because I don’t have to actually do work. But, that’s the exact problem: if you want to be a good judge, you can’t pretend to be watching the round and do your homework instead. Usually, I end up paying attention and not getting any school work done, which is sort of wasting my weekends and sets me behind.
So why do I go back? Why do other people come back to these high school tournaments to not be able to do work or get drunk downtown?
- It pays bank. Done deal, right here. This is a pretty sweet gig for a college kid. I can choose when I want to come and schools are more than willing to work around your schedules. I’m not obligated to work in the library 3 hours a day or sit on a lifeguard stool every Saturday if I have an O-Chem test that Monday.
- They’re like mini-high school reunions. Like I said above – I hated high school. But, when I say this, I mean it in the best way possible. You know how everyone talks about going to their high school reunions in 30 years and it’s going to be weird seeing everyone? Yeah, well, here, I can choose who I want to see, which is honestly everyone in the debate community, including people from other high schools. This includes people still in high school, who I worked with when I was an upper classmen, as well as the people I debated with and against when I was in high school. It’s sort of nice to have a genuine conversation with someone when you’re not secretly trying to find out how many wins they have so far.
- You can turn up without consequence. No stress exists anymore…well, not the same kind. College is harder, which is why I don’t debate in college. So, I see these debate tournaments as little vacation time when 1) I have an excuse not to do homework and 2) can talk to people as much as I want. What better vacation can you have? I mean, other than the vacation spot – I would, of course, prefer Disney World to anyplace I go. But, I don’t have to prep anymore and I don’t have to turn down a chance to turn up just because I’m sitting in front of a computer trying to research for last-minute cards off the internet.
- I genuinely enjoy watching the underclassmen become upperclassmen. Growing up is probably one of the biggest struggles in life. People give you these advice that you don’t want to listen to, and even if you do, they’re not that helpful because growing up is a lesson meant for only you to learn and suffer through (yeah, it sucks). There, however, is no doubt that I go back to these tournaments, talk to the little high school-ers, and give them advice about how to solve their problems. Even though I know they won’t listen to me, sometimes. And, sometimes, I just sit there and listen to their problems, because that’s all they need. When I look at these kids, I think 1) “Wow, was I that annoying?” 2) “Aw, that’s so cute – dropping a counterplan isn’t really okay” or 3) “Oh, you think being judge-fucked every round is a thing?” The best part is that usually, I think all of these 3 things at the same time. So a mixture of high and low emotions, I would say.
- Debate will always be here to challenge how much I actually know. This is a note to the debaters who are currently debating: most of the judges, especially the ones who are in college, don’t know what you’re fucking topic is; the problem with people who don’t realize this is that when they give speeches, they never actually clarify what abbreviations or current events that are going on, which makes the decision-makers confused and not able to really make a decision (thank you to those who did make it easy, though). So make sure you do that. But, when they are able to clarify and explain things, it’s kind of enriching. It felt good to know that there are energy conflicts in the Senkaku region: hell I didn’t know that. And, sometimes it makes me think that I should. But, that’s what debate is here for: even if you’re not debating, you’re still participating in the fact that it’s still an academically enriching activity.