clip art of debater

Dear Future Debaters of America...

So you have decided to take the fun, exciting and somewhat time consuming class of debate. Don't be scared by the last one because have no life anyway. Who cares if by taking debate you will never see your friends on the weekends again? Who cares if you are going to debate tournaments that go from 3:30 PM to 11:30 PM on Friday and then you have to be back at 6:00 am the next morning to do it all over again? Who cares if some of the biggest geeks you will know will be met due to going to and taking debate? Who cares if you have to spend hours just learning a new debate vocabulary with words like "topicality" and "autonomy." Who cares if you will spend countless hours researching topics like "National Identity" or "Juvenile Crime?" Who cares if Mrs. Woodward has decided to cut costs on the away trips by putting 4 people in a room with just 2 beds? Just think of what you get out of it....a cheap trophy that frequently has some misspelled word or something wrong with it.

Now you are saying to yourself, "AHHHH" what I have I gotten myself into? Once again you have entered the fun, exciting and somewhat time consuming class of debate. Take it from me, the above is a minor exaggeration, but much of it is very true. Very true. But I promise to you that if you decide right now that you are going to take the time to work hard, dedicate a lot of time and effort to debate it will be one of the best things you will ever do. I promise that.

My name is Daniel Parker and not only am I the Lincoln Douglas debate captain, but I am also a member of the team. I am going to be a senior in high school this fall, and I will be entering my 4th year in debate. Yep I have been doing this for a freaking four years. Why? Because I love the fact that I get to hang out with some of the smartest people in the school, go on trips to Berkeley, CA, Arizona State University, College of Eastern Utah and other such luxurious places. Debate has not only taught me communication skills that are priceless in the world of real, but I have also learned to be able to interact with all different kinds of people.

As a fairly seasoned debater I have learned more useful skills than I believe I could learn in any other class or activity. I have learned to be able to prepare a 5 minute speech in 2 minutes on just about any topic. I have learned how to write a speech, put together props for it, and then give the speech for 10 minutes in front of an audience of close to 100 people. I have learned how to write in a style that almost every English teacher loves and gives A+'s on. I have learned to be able to read faster. I have learned how to play pranks on drunk guys that hang out in front of your hotel room at Arizona State University.

As you read this, ask yourself where else you could learn such valuable and resourceful skills. Learning to shoot a free throw, throw a football or hit a baseball might seem like the coolest, most important thing around. But for most of us, debaters and athletes alike, knowing that kind of stuff is really not going to be a long term asset once you are out of college.

Wake up right now and realize that the only way you are going to be successful in this world is if you can communicate. Employers across the nation listed "ability to communicate" as the most important skill. Are you learning that now on the playing field? I am sure that a few are thinking, "Yeah I have to communicate with my football team to be able to work together and win." If you believe that then listen to Coach Knight and you will notice that he often "grunts" more than he talks. It is not to say that is unsuccessful, but in any other setting besides high school football, grunting would not cut it.

Taking Debate and dedicating a lot of time and effort is going to give you the skills you will need to be able to get a job you want. The bottom line is, taking debate and working hard at it and learning everything you can from it is going to make you more money in the job world. It is not a prerequisite to making money, but debate will only help you on that path.

So as you sit and ponder this class and think about the fact that it will only cost you $5 to drop it, think about what I have said. Think about the fact that right now, as you think about taking debate or you think about dropping debate, that it could be a decision that will truly change your life. Taking debate and being a dedicated member will help you get scholarships, get into colleges, get jobs and best of all...teach you things that every successful person knows.

Thank You for reading this letter and considering this class,

Daniel R. Parker
Lone Peak High School, Utah
Kalamazoo7 -at-

Republished to the web by permission of the author
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