Expectations From an Online Tournament from Lasting Impact! By: Thaddian Burson

I could say it a thousand times: Adaption to online tournaments will be essential for the upcoming debate season! Raise your hand if you want to try out online debate for the first time at an actual tournament with check marks or at-large points in the balance? No hands? I agree.
The speech and debate world is undergoing a huge shift to try and balance speech and debate while protecting people’s lives. This shift is towards online debate. As students, we can choose to either resist it and just hope that something changes, or embrace it and learn to adapt. I am with most of you in that my initial gut reaction to online debate was: “Yuck!” Yet, after participating in several online tournaments, one of which was hosted by Lasting Impact!, my perspective has entirely changed. I believe that online tournaments provide a more than viable way to continue speech and debate in the Covid era.

Lasting Impact! is offering a chance to prepare for these online tournaments in the form of their Fall Circuit. It starts Sept. 28, 2020. Go to www.impacttournaments.com for more info or to register. In the meantime here are some expectations that you can have for this circuit and future Impact Tournaments…

Expectation #1: Uplifting Competition
One of the key things that I experienced during the Lasting Impact! online tournament, and something that you can expect, is uplifting competition. What does that mean? That means Christ is exalted as the final goal. Mrs. Neumann and her team (special shout out to Mr. Neumann) passionately serve to continuously remind us competitors of why we are even doing speech and debate in the first place. Through devotions, conversations, and fellowship, online tournaments with Lasting Impact! repeatedly point to our Savior. That’s why we are all here, right? To make a Lasting Impact. As a result of this top-down focus on Christ, the entire essence of the tournament is one that uplifts Christ.

Expectation #2: Growth
We will be debating online. We will be debating online. We will be debating online. As soon as we understand and accept that, we should be looking for ways to prepare for the online debating world. Online tournaments with Lasting Impact! are the perfect opportunity for this preparation. If you compete, you can expect to grow. You will grow in your ability to communicate by practicing skills that you have never had to practice before. You will grow in your ability to adapt to new experiences. At a bare minimum, you will have practiced online debate before the official competitions begin. The growth that I experienced while competing in these online tournaments, I believe, will be nearly invaluable in the upcoming season.

Expectation #3: Quality
One of the major complaints about online debate is simply the logistics: Do I need to find my opponents and make sure they know which link to use?  Do I need to find a judge for my round? Is my judge setting up the Zoom/Skype/Hangout call? The answers to every one of those questions (and others) has been seamlessly interwoven into the Impact Tournament software. After competing in several online tournaments with four different ways of tournament organization, I can easily dub Lasting Impact! the best. The Impact Tournament software keeps everything easily accessible, organized, and simple. The competition rooms are set up, the times clearly labeled, and competitors can easily “walk” into their competition rooms. The quality of these tournaments is simply among the best.

Expectation #4: Engagement
The biggest objection to online tournaments is that we don’t get to see our friends in person. Unfortunately, Lasting Impact! can’t solve for that (if they could, they would), but they do provide an online platform that is completely engaging for the students who compete. From games and prizes to discussions and just normal conversation, online tournaments with Lasting Impact! are connective, engaging, and fun! As a competitor you will have access to the virtual hangout room that Lasting Impact! has set up to encourage conversation and build relationships. Of course, these are not replacements for physical tournaments, but these are also definitely not the drab and boring Zoom rooms that we often picture.

Expectation #5: Good Constructive Feedback
This is a huge benefit of these Lasting Impact! online tournaments. It’s unfortunate when at physical tournaments the judge fills the ballot with feedback that you can’t read, or when the judge says nothing at all. At the Lasting Impact! Tournaments, the feedback is all typed, and that means it’s both readable and abundant. Judges are likely to give more feedback because they don’t have the limitation of a single page and because it is easier to type the feedback than to write it. On average, I received almost 260 words of feedback per ballot (that’s more than double the length of this paragraph)! Because of the quality of the feedback these tournaments are the perfect chance to try out new debate cases or ideas.

Expectation #6: Much Better Prizes
I am half joking here, and also totally not joking. This is one area where these online tournaments well surpass physical tournaments. Lasting Impact! offers some amazing prizes: From coaching and camps to cash and gift cards (Getting paid to debate?! Sign me up!), the prizes and awards are exciting. Lasting Impact! works to bless the competitors, and they do it well.

You can expect a lot from online tournaments with Lasting Impact! It is good to note, however, that as in everything you do in speech and debate: You will only get out what you put in. If you just show up and put in minimal effort, you likely won’t grow, succeed, or enjoy yourself. If you are invested in learning, adapting, and debating well, you will grow, learn, and on top of that, enjoy yourself. You have to make the conscious decision to be all in. Online debating is increasingly important to be prepared for, and Lasting Impact! provides an uplifting, quality, engaging, and fun way to practice and grow as a debater. I would highly encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity and register!!

The Lasting Impact! Fall Circuit sponsored by: DFW Speech and Debate has decided to open back up registration for one week only (Sept. 9-18, 2020)!! Competition starts Sept. 28th! Resolutions are the Stoa and NCFCA 2020 Resolutions. Think of this as the ultimate practice tournament to prepare you for the season. Don’t have a case? DFW is giving away a free TP Case to anyone that registers. Tell your friends! The value of jumping in, thinking about resolutions, learning to debate online, the possibilities of growth for the upcoming season are endless! Go to the tournament site to register- www.impacttournaments.com

Judges are welcome to sign up NOW too!! Reserve your rounds!! We would love to have you!!