Why Boise State’s Speech And Debate Team Are National Champs

Mar 27, 2015

Boise State this weekend hosts the national championship tournament for one particular style of debate. It's the first time the International Public Debate Association has held the competition west of the Mississippi. 

The host university also has a team participating. Boise State's Talkin' Broncos earlier this month won their third consecutive national championship from Pi Kappa Delta, one of a handful of national speech and debate organizations. More than 70 colleges compete for its national team title every two years.

Unlike this weekend’s tournament, the Pi Kappa Delta championship is based on 15 speech and debate categories.

BSU Director of Forensics Manda Hicks says her team’s strength is being good at many events, instead of focusing on one or two. Many colleges do have a tradition of specializing in just a few styles of debate. Ivy League schools, for example jockey for supremacy in the well-known, fast-talking policy debate style.  But they’re not focusing on other debate varieties or speech events, such as after-dinner speaking or literary interpretation.

Hicks says her team should do well at this weekend's single style competition, but won’t win. She’d rather continue to win the tournaments with variety.

“If you only do one thing, you only learn how to do that one thing and you learn that there’s only one way to do that one thing,” Hicks says. “And pedagogically I don’t agree with that.”

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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