Description of Events


SPAR (Spontaneous Argument)

Spar is a novice event. This means that students must be 14 years old or younger and must be in their first year of competition to compete in this event. Spar is a one on one debate in which competitors are given very little time to prepare their cases for the debate. In the debate round several debating pairs will gather in a room with a judge. Two debaters will present themselves to the judge at a time. The judge will randomly choose one debater to pick a debate topic (called a resolution) from among three options. After the topic has been chosen, the other debater will choose the affirmative case (attempting to prove the resolution), or the negative case (attempting to disprove the resolution). From this point the structure of the debate is thus:


Preparation time for 1 minute

Affirmative speaks for 2 minutes

Negative speaks for 2 minutes

Affirmative and Negative clash for 3 minutes

Negative speaks for 1 minute

Affirmative speaks for 1 minute


The clash is a period in which both debaters are free to speak to each other. This time can be used for making arguments and asking questions. In the debate, debaters are allowed pen/pencil and blank paper.  Because of the short preparation time, subjects for spar debate will be less in depth and serious i.e. Resolved: dogs are better than horses. In this debate, debaters will be judged by organization, strength of argument, delivery of argument, and courtesy to their opponent. Debaters should never personally attack their opponent. Also important to remember is that debaters should always look at the judge while speaking (even during the clash when debaters are speaking directly to each other). Competitors may ask the judge to give hand signals to indicate time left in speaking.



Impromptu is a novice event. This means that students must be 14 years old or younger and must be in their first year of competition to compete in this event.  Impromptu speaking is speaking with very little preparation time. In this event, several speakers will gather in a room with a judge and will each in turn be given the opportunity to speak. At the beginning of each turn the judge will give the speaker a short list of possible topics. The speaker will then promptly choose a topic. At this point the speaker will have seven minutes to create and deliver a speech. For example, a student may choose to prepare for 2 minutes and thus have 5 minutes left to speak. Speakers may request that the judge give them hand signals to signify time remaining. Speakers will be judged on organization, strength of argument, and delivery. Speakers may use notes to prepare and to speak if they wish, but speakers will not be allowed to use electronic devices or visual aids. 


Student Congress

Student congress is a simulation of a session of a congress. Competitors in Federal Student Congress simulate participation in the national congress. Competitors in State Student Congress simulate participation in the legislature of the State of Utah. In preparation for competition students should do the following items-

  1. Write a piece of legislation (bill, resolution, or resolution to amend the constitution) and submit it on the registration page for the tournament.

  2. Write an authorship speech for their legislation. An authorship speech is a four minute speech which attempts to persaude the congress to vote for the legislation.

  3. Read over the list of submitted legislation and research the legislation so as to be prepared to speak  on other competitor's legislation. Competitors are not allowed to view the docket of legislation until they have submitted legislation themselves.

  4. Print enough copies of their legislation (not authorship speech) to distribute to each of the other competitors and the judge.


On the day of competition, students gather with the other competitors in their congress. Students make a nametag, and distribute legislation to each other. To begin the congress, students take the oath of office, roll is taken, students are given special instructions, and students elect the first chair. At this point the congress debates and votes on the legislation in the order specified by the agenda. On each piece of legislation an authorship speech is heard first, and then students are allowed to speak affirmative and negative on the legislation until previous question is moved and passed. Once previous question is moved and passed, the congress votes on the legislation and then moves to the next piece of legislation on the agenda. Periodically students elect a new chair to preside over the congress. 


Presidential Debate

In Presidential Debate, students debate as though they are running as a candidate for President of the United States of America. Approximately a month previous to the tournament a general topic (such as taxes, foreign policy, the economy, or national security) is announced. All debates in the tournament will focus on that topic. Previous to the tournaments students research the issue and create a platform of their positions on the issue. At the tournament students compete in four rounds. Each round is observed by a judge and is directed by a moderator (who is a separate person from the judge) and includes six to eight competitors. The debate is broken into sections each headed by an initial question delivered by the moderator. The initial question for each section is delivered to a competitor (each competitor can expect to have the opportunity to receive one initial question), who then has ninety seconds to answer. After the initial answer all student will have seven minutes to respond in either a rebuttal or clash format. Finally, each section concludes with the student who offered the answer to the initial question giving a thirty second closing statement. 

The sections of the debate will alternate between rebuttals and clash with the first section being a rebuttal section. In rebuttal sections, after the initial question is answered, the moderator will ask for volunteers to offer a rebuttal after the initial statement and after each rebuttal. Each rebuttal is allotted sixty seconds. Rebuttals will proceed until the seven minutes for rebuttal are taken up. In clash sections, after the initial question is answered, all students will stand and engage in a clash style debate for seven minutes. During this time students may speak at will, but should obey the moderator who is tasked with keeping order. 

Once all students have had the opportunity to offer an answer to an initial question and give a closing statement, the debate will end.



An oratory is a 7-10 minute persuasive speech written by the speaker. The speech should address a societal ill. This speech may be written at any time previous to the tournament. It must be the original work of the competitor, and no more than 15% of the speech may be direct quotes. The speech should be memorized. The speech should also not have been used for competition in any other school year. In each competitive round several speakers will be gather in a room with a judge. Each speaker will be heard by the other speakers and the judge in turn. Speakers will be judged according to persuasiveness of arguments, organization, writing style, and delivery. Speeches should be memorized and within the time limits (not memorized and long or short speeches will be judged less favorably but not disqualified). Speeches should not contain any graphic descriptions or language.  Speakers may ask judges to give hand signals to alert the speaker of their time spoken.


Extemporaneous Speaking

In extemporaneous speaking students are given three general current events topics to study approximately one month before each tournament. To prepare for the tournament students study those topics so as to prepare themselves to speak on various facets of each topic. Students begin each round by receiving a choice of three specific topics to speak on in the form of questions about one or more of the general current events (such as “Should the United States buy a controlling stake in General Motors?”). After choosing their topic, students will be given 30 minutes to write an up to 7 minute speech which convincingly answers the given question. Speeches which exceed the 7 minute limit will not be disqualified, but will be judged less favorably. Speeches should answer the given question thoroughly, but may also go beyond the scope of the question. Speakers will be given a quiet place to prepare and will be allowed to use paper and pen/pencil. No electronic devices will be allowed either for research or preparation. Students may bring hardcopies of any material which they think might aid them in their speech (such as a copy of the constitution, or compilations of information). During the speech students will not be allowed to refer to any notes.


Lincoln Douglas Debate

Lincoln Douglas Debate is a one on one debate in which debaters attempt to prove or disprove the truth of a given resolution.


Previous to the tournament, a resolution is announced for the tournament. Every Lincoln Douglas debate at the tournament will be on that resolution. 


To prepare students study the resolution, conduct research, and prepare arguments for the debate. 


In each round students are assigned to debate either affirmative or negative for the resolution. Affirmative debaters attempt to prove that the resolution is true. Negative debaters attempt to prove that the resolution is false. Every competitor will debate both the affirmative and the negative on the resolution during each tournament.


Affirmative and negative debaters will take turns giving speeches and cross examining each other. Cross examination is a period in which one debater may ask questions (and only ask questions) of their opponent. The structure of the debate is thus-


Affirmative speaks for 6 minutes

Negative cross examines Affirmative for 3 minutes

Negative Speaks for 7 minutes

Affirmative cross examines Negative for 3 minutes

Affirmative Speaks for 4 minutes

Negative speaks and concludes for 6 minutes

Affirmative speaks and concludes for 3 minutes


Both speakers will have a total of 3 minutes preparation time for the entire debate which they can use at any point in between speeches or cross examinations. Debaters will be judged on strength of argument, organization, presentation, and courtesy. Debaters are allowed to bring notes and evidence, paper, and pencil/pen into the debate round, but not laptops or other electronic devices used for storing information. During all speaking times (including cross examination) debaters should look at their judge and not each other. Spewing (talking rapidly to the point of approaching incomprehensibility for the purpose of submitting a large volume of evidence) is not allowed.