ERIC Number: ED250736
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Changing the Debate Format: A Mechanism to Control the Spread.
Mayer, Michael E.
Although a good deal of the controversy over debate strategy versus substance has been on the construction of both affirmative and negative cases, the most widespread concern is with the use of the "spread." Debate scholars argue that the spread can be misused in two somewhat similar ways. The strategic spread, in which a large number of somewhat developed arguments is presented, is used to attempt to force the opposition to misallocate its time. The goal of the tactical spread, in which a relatively large number of undeveloped responses to an argument are given, is to avoid debate. Since the affirmative can postpone its choice of which of the six advantages to emphasize until the second affirmative rebuttal (after which the negative is compulsorily silent), an enormous tactical advantage can be gained by concentrating on those elements of the affirmative case about which the negative has said the least. While these two forms of the spread can be differentiated from one another, they are generally used together. Scholars argue that both judging practices and debate format are two potential sources of the spread. A format using eight-minute constructives and seven-minute rebuttals might well reduce the effects of both the strategic and the tactical spread. Other variations in format that lengthen rebuttals at the expense of the constructives might also prove useful in reducing the lack of clarity that results from misuse of the spread. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Debate Format; Spread (Debate)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Western Speech Communication Association (Fresno, CA, February 16-19, 1985).