It was the moment every policy debater fears. My partner and I had just asked our opponents what case they were running, and to our horror they gave us the name of one of the only cases we didn’t prep for at that national mixer. Not to mention it was the last prelim round – a breaking round. I less than confidently pulled out our one piece of evidence on the bill printed late the night before while my partner ran through the rain to retrieve a few pages of evidence from a fellow team. Needless to say, it was chaotic… Till we remembered there were such things as sourcebooks.
By the end of the debate we were flying high – it had been a blast. You always know it has been good when you look down at the end of the round to find the table covered with papers. How did this happen? Short answer? We used sourcebooks. Long answer? We used two separate general briefs, and a negative brief from a different case all from sourcebooks to have a fruitful and beneficial debate. Additionally we used that one piece of evidence printed the night before, and the couple pages snagged through the rain from our friends, as well as multiple briefs we had made ourselves on different cases. Funny thing was, none of those were what assisted us in winning the round. It was the evidence from the sourcebooks.
Many times sourcebooks are thought of as only something novice debaters need, but this is simply not the case. While these resources can be extremely helpful for debaters needing a leg up on case building, they also benefit debaters with years of experience and cases already prepared. The reality is that very few debaters have the time or bandwidth to have fully prepared briefs on every case being run at every tournament they will ever attend that year. Particularly when some tournaments have over 100 debate competitors in TP. Additionally there are often cases being run that the debater may not have even been aware of beforehand.
This is where a sourcebook can come to the rescue. Having evidence on hand on multiple sides for a broad range of issues can be a life saver even for the most seasoned competitor. But perhaps sourcebooks are even more useful early in the season, where the learning curve can sometimes be steep. These resources can be a key to jump starting research and understanding the topic months in advance of when competitors have access to real cases to debate. All in all, sourcebooks have proven to be a significantly beneficial resource to my debate seasons, and wonderful additions to my evidence arsenal. Used well, sourcebooks can rescue competitors from the clutches of evidenceless embarrassment, create a greater level of fun and high level debates, and jump start the dive into the rich resolutions each season!
Looking for your own sourcebook for the 2020-2021 season? Check out Lasting Impact’s TP Sourcebook! Sarah Fox and her partner, Eli Mayfield, are both contributing authors of the Lasting Impact! NCFCA TP Source Book. They won both Regional Qualifiers they attended, as well as placing 2nd at the Anderson National Mixer in 2020. Check out the SHOP for all of the fantastic resources Lasting Impact! has, to help you be prepared.