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Real World v. Debate World

We have kicked off the Stoa 2020-2021 debate season and are glad to be back together again, virtually and in-person. As the tournament season has started, let's examine how competitors may view the differences between the “debate world” and the “real world”. Some students see the debate world as our own creation, merely a platform for debating ideas, honing our skills, and occasionally winning trophies. In contrast, we might consider the real world as the reality we live in. Maybe you believe your debate round doesn't matter in the real world because there are no real consequences. But debate rounds have real consequences in the real world. You may be surprised to see that the debate world and the real world coincide. Consider these points:

  • Real people debate real ideas.

  • Real people affect other real people.

  • Real people make mistakes.

  • Real people get hurt.

Although we cannot eliminate every mistake or hurt feeling, here are some ways to mitigate real-world harms:

  • Assume the best of each other and give your opponents the benefit of the doubt.

  • Politely address issues after the round with the other team, as we all benefit from accountability.

  • Give grace to your teammates and opponents.

  • Admit your mistakes.

  • Accept the consequences of your actions (even a possible forfeiture in case of a rule infraction) with grace and humility.

  • Embrace correction.

As John Wooden stated, "The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching." Let’s aspire to be people of good character.

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