Two Rules Clarifications for the Chicago Middle School Debate League

Coming out of SY2015 Chicago Middle School Debate League Tournament One, the CMSDL administration would like to clarify two rules of competition that some debate teams were unclear about at the first competitive event of the year.

1. Limit on New Arguments in the 2NC

The rule:

2NCs can run or read new case attacks, but not new off-case arguments (or issues), i.e., disadvantages, topicality violations, or counterplans.

The explanation:

The Second Negative Constructive is a ‘constructive’ speech, so traditionally that means that the speaker has a right to make any new arguments they want. However, trends in high school debate over the past 20 years or so have created a convention, especially in HS national circuit debate, not to run or read new arguments (or, as we commonly call them, new issues) in the 2NC, but rather treat the 2NC like a rebuttal, one in which the 2NC exclusively responds to 2AC arguments against arguments (or issues) initiated in the 1NC. On the national circuit, it isn’t that 2NCs are restricted by rule against running or reading new arguments (or issues), but rather that they are discouraged from doing so. The origin of this convention is as a hedge against abusively over-running or out-running the 1AR when the 2NC runs or reads a lot of new arguments.

In the CMSDL, however, the Coaches Council has given the league administration the input that 2NCs should be allowed to run or read new case attacks, because 1NCs often cannot get out a wide enough range of arguments. So that’s our rule: 2NCs can run or read new case attacks, but not new off-case arguments (or issues), i.e., disadvantages, topicality violations, or counterplans.

2. Maverick Teams Cannot Win Team Awards

The rule:

Maverick teams (i.e., individual debaters) cannot win team awards, though they can win individual speaker awards.

The explanation:

Competitive academic debate is a two-person activity and the league doesn’t want to encourage solo debating, but rather wants to encourage teamwork and collaboration between partners. So individual debaters — i.e., maverick debaters — are not eligible to win team awards at CMSDL tournaments. But their individual performance does allow them to win individual speaker awards.

A two-person team is allowed to be a maverick team — a single debater — for one round before it is defined as maverick.