National Parliamentary Debate Association
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- NPDA redirects here, it may also refer to nondeterministic pushdown automata.
The National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA) is one of the two national intercollegiate parliamentary debate organizations in the United States. The other is the American Parliamentary Debate Association. Its membership is national with participating schools on both coasts and throughout the country. As of 2015, NAPA was the largest debating organization in the United States with around 200-250 participating schools in any given year.
The Rules of NPDA Debate
In tournaments sponsored or sanctioned by the NPDA, teams of two persons debate head-to-head. Tournaments issue a new topic each round, generally on issues such as politics, philosophy, and current affairs, and speeches begin after limited preparation time.
Parliamentary debate, which is often shortened as "parli," is a debate format in which tournament officials assign a new topic every round. After the announcement of the topic, the two teams have a limited preparation time, which is 15 minutes plus the time it takes to walk to the furthest away round in which debates will be taking place (usually rounded to 20 minutes), during which to write out their respective cases.
The second important rule is time limits. The standard time limits for an NPDA debate are:
- First Proposition Speaker: 7 minutes
- First Opposition Speaker: 8 minutes
- Second Proposition Speaker: 8 minutes
- Second Opposition Speaker: 8 minutes
- Opposition Rebuttal: 4 minutes
- Proposition Rebuttal: 5 minutes
There are tournaments, however, at which these are modified, generally to a 7-7-7-7-5-5 format. The Claremont Colleges tournament, for instance, uses this 7-5 format. During constructive speeches, debaters may introduce new arguments and the speaker's opponents may rise to ask questions of the speaker. Constructive speakers can accept or reject any given question. Rebuttals are exclusively for summarizing the arguments that were made during constructives.
Over the past few years many coaches and competitors have referred to the official title of speeches with different names. These are unofficial yet very popular with many judges:
- Prime Minister Constructive
- Leader of Opposition Constructive
- Member of Government Constructive
- Member of Opposition Constructive
- Leader of Opposition Rebuttal
- Prime Minister Rebuttal
The third rule of importance is the ban on quoted evidence. Literally, this simply means that the debaters may not bring in printed, published evidence and consult it during the round. It is expected that debaters will use their own preexisting knowledge and research conducted prior to the start of the actual round to back their arguments with reasoning and empirical data.
Once they enter the debating chambers, parliamentary debaters are prohibited from using published materials to supplement their arguments. This places parli in stark contrast to the other common intercollegiate debate format: policy debate. Policy debaters utilize quoted evidence.
Any mature debate circuit will develop its own customs and practices. Some people argue that the NPDA rules are very laissez-faire, preferring to let the norms of what constitutes valid argumentation be subjects for the debate itself. Others believe that, in recent years, the NPDA has been hesitant to allow its participants to engage in controversial, avant garde or "nontraditional" debate practices at its national championship tournament.
The NPDA Championship Tournament
The NPDA runs one debate tournament each year: the NPDA Championship Tournament, held in late March or early April at rotating host sites. While the inaugural tournament in 1994 only hosted around 40 teams, the 2004 Championship Tournament had over 300 teams in the field from over a half-dozen nations. This tournament's practices are generally modeled by smaller invitational tournaments, which provide the bulk of year-long competition. NPDA sanctions many of these tournaments, and the school that does the best at sanctioned invitationals over the course of the year is awarded a year-long sweepstakes championship.
Relationship to Other Tournaments and Organizations
There are usually several NPDA-sanctioned invitational tournaments throughout the country to choose from on almost every weekend of the academic year. The largest of these tournaments include the Mile High Swing held in January, and co-hosted in recent years by Texas Tech University and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, the season-opening Bowman Debates at William Jewell College in September, the Steve Hunt Classic held at Lewis & Clark College in October, and the Paul Winters Invitational at the University of the Pacific in November.
Communicating Between Tournaments
Almost from its inception, the NPDA community has taken advantage of the Internet to continue debates (and to debate about debates) between tournaments and in the off-season. For years, this took place via the official electronic mailing list, much to the chagrin of those who saw that resource as best used for official communication such as posting tournament invitations and results.
Today, much of the online debate (especially between competitors) in the NPDA community takes place via the online forum Net-Benefits.net, founded by University of Southern California then-undergraduate Jed Link. The name "Net-Benefits" is a pun, referring to the debate paradigm by which the debate judge weighs the net benefits of two competing policies. The site is now an electronic hub for discourse and information on parliamentary debate.
NPDA National Champions
Every year since 1994, the organization has held a national championship tournament. Winning teams include:
|2016||David Hansen & Katelyn Johnson||William Jewell College|
|2015||Matt Casas & Anthony Joseph||Kansas City Kansas Community College|
|2014||Josh Rivera & Ben Campbell||Southern Illinois University|
|2013||Josh Rivera & Mike Selck||Southern Illinois University|
|2012||Lauren Knoth & Josh Ramsey||Washburn University|
|2011||Hank Fields & Matt Gander||University of Oregon|
|2010||Brian Horton & Adam Testerman||Texas Tech University|
|2009||Max Alderman & David Pena||University of Nevada, Reno|
|2008||Kristen Owen & Anthony Putnicki||Texas Tech University|
|2007||Tim Kamermayer & Griffith Vertican||Point Loma Nazarene University|
|2006||Josh Anderson & Rachel Safran||University of Puget Sound|
|2005||Paul Bingham & Meredith Price||Lewis & Clark College|
|2004||Ian Samuel & Marie Tenny||Truman State University|
|2003||Michael Owens & Joshua Wilkerson||University of Wyoming|
|2002||Ben Garcia & Chris Richter||University of Alaska Anchorage|
|2001||Danny Barak & Will Trachman||University of California, Berkeley|
|2000||Ryan Kennedy & Jacob Stutzman||Truman State University|
|1999||Geof Brodak & Bill Herman||Colorado State University|
|1998||Heath Curtis & Rebekah Gilbert||Concordia University, Seward|
|1997||Dan Nelson & Marcus Paroske||Regis University|
|1996||Ryan Levy & Scott Ruthfield||Rice University|
|1995||Meredith Marine & Neal Sample||University of Wyoming|
|1994||Marcus Paroske & Tammy Schultz||Regis University|
Commonly Used Books
- The Parli Prepbook compilled by Kyle Dennis and written by several coaches and renowned competitors- A community-driven guide to modern parliamentary debate.
- Strategic Argumentation in Parliamentary Debate by Eric Robertson— Good for beginners and intermediate
- Art, Argument, and Advocacy: Mastering Parliamentary Debate by John Meany and Kate Shuster- Best for intermediate and advanced
- On that point: Introduction to Parliamentary Debate by John Meany- Good for beginners
- Burden of Proof: An introductory guide to argumentation and guide to parliamentary debate by Mark Crossman— Good for beginners
- Competitive Debate: The Official Guide by Richard E Edwards— Good for high schools and not just parli
- National Parliamentary Debate Association - homepage of the organization
- National Parliamentary Tournament of Excellence - view current and old NPTE rankings
- Net-Benefits.net - online community for college parliamentary debate
- Learnparlidebate.com - Video lectures for novices learning NPDA style debate.
- Parlidebate.com - Video and audio recordings of APDA, BP, CUSID and NPDA debate rounds.
- ForensicsTournament.net - online registration site for NPDA Nationals.
- STA-XL Plus Debate Tabulation Software - Software used to run many NPDA tournaments.