Article IV: tournament practice

  1. Tournament directors must ensure that all participants compete on a more or less equal basis.
    1. A debate team should not meet the same team twice during preliminary rounds of a tournament unless:
      1. There are so few teams entered that it would be impossible for the tournament to proceed, in which case the two teams should switch sides the second time they meet, or
      2. The schools entering the tournament have agreed to suspend the provision that teams not debate each other twice in preliminary rounds.
    2. Speakers in individual events shall not be repeatedly matched against the same opponents in a given event, unless:
      1. the tournament cannot proceed otherwise, or
      2. the schools attending the tournament agree to suspend the provision that speakers should not repeatedly meet the same opponents in a given round of individual events.
    3. So far as possible, speakers in individual events contests should rotate speaking positions.
    4. Judges for forensics contests shall be assigned in accordance with these stipulations:
      1. A judge shall not be assigned to judge his/her own team
      2. A judge shall not judge the same debate team or student speaker in one particular individual event twice during a tournament's preliminary rounds unless there is no way to avoid this conflict. In such cases:
        1. the judge will hear the debate team on the opposite side, unless it is impossible to do this or the schools competing agree to suspend this provision, and
        2. the judge will hear the student speaker compete against as many different opponents as those involved in the judge's first hearing of the speech, unless it is impossible to do this or the schools competing agree to suspend this provision.
        3. Exceptions to this principle, such as for district tournaments using panels, should be clarified in tournament invites or governing documents.
      3. A judge shall not judge debaters or speakers where there is a conflict of interest possible, such as:
        1. The judge has previously coached in college a debater or speaker he/she is to hear,
        2. The judge was, within the last two years, the coach of the school whose team or speaker he/she is to hear,
        3. The judge was, within the last two years, an undergraduate forensics competitor at the school whose team or speaker he/she is to hear.
      4. Prior to the start of the tournament, all judges shall have an opportunity to declare themselves ineligible to hear specific debate teams, speakers, or events.
      5. The practice of allowing debate teams or individual events speakers to prevent a specific judge from hearing a particular team or speaker is permitted only when:
        1. all teams or speakers are given an equal chance to declare judge strikes or fill out preference sheets prior to the start of the tournament,
        2. all teams and speakers are granted the same number of strikes-the number to be determined by the tournament director(s), and
        3. The procedures for removing strikes (if any) are stated openly to all competitors.
  2. Tournaments should be completely and fairly advertised.
    1. The levels of competition expected should be specified.
    2. If the tournament has more than one division of competition, eligibility requirements for the divisions shall be clearly defined in the tournament invitation.
    3. The basis for advancing competitors to the elimination rounds, and/or for awarding trophies or prizes, shall be specified either in the tournament invitation or in written or oral statements presented to all tournament participants prior to the start of the first round of the tournament.
    4. The rules governing all competitive events (event description, procedures, time limits, etc.) shall be clearly specified in the tournament invitation.
  3. All tournaments are encouraged to invite interested any and all interested observers, on a space available basis, to view tournament rounds and take notes. Participants, coaches of the teams involved, judges or authorized researchers (with the tournament director's approval) may electronically record any tournament round of competition except for oral interpretation events. Member organizations may develop appropriate policies about the uses of recorded material.
  4. Tournament judges are obliged to provide detailed and constructive criticism of any and all rounds of competition they evaluate. Judges are expected to provide either oral feedback or written comments on the ballots provided by the tournament, as appropriate for the event. If judges choose to provide written comments, these written comments should be made available to all the competitors a judge has heard by the conclusion of the tournament. All provisions of this article shall apply to high school and college competitors.
  5. Tournament directors should ensure that:
    1. Results are made available to all contestants as soon after competition ends as is humanly possible.
    2. Their tournament runs smoothly and efficiently, with breaks in between rounds for power-matching minimized whenever possible.
    3. All results are kept secret if that is specified by the tournament rules.
  6. All tournaments should operate in an environment free of any behavior (whether verbal or nonverbal) that results in the harrassment of any participant (whether student, coach, or judge).
  7. This section is not intended to preclude experimental practices by tournaments, so long as those practices are clearly spelled out in the invitation.