What Is Forensic Competition?
by Thomas Charles, Demand Media
Forensic competition is a contest between individuals or teams in various argument and advocacy skills. The American Forensic Association (AFA) trains college students in public speaking and "reasoned discourse in public life," according to the association's website.
The National Forensic League (NFL) works with middle school and high school students in speech and debate skills to help students become effective communicators, an essential skill typically required by all employers.
Organized debate has a long history in the United States, with the Lincoln - D ouglas contests of the 1850s being perhaps the most famous example. In 1910, the desire for debate and declamation contests was the impetus for creating what is now one of the nation's largest competitive academic programs, Texas' University Interscholasti c League (UIL). It was not until 1920 that Texas held its
first state high school football championship. The NFL created a national high school competition in 1930. The AFA created a collegiate national tourney in 1966, following the tradition of a yearly meet at West Point begun in 194
According to the UIL, forensic competitions help develop the research, analysis, and persuasion abilities of student participants. These skills help students with current studies, civic participation and necessary job skills. In 2007, the NFL adopted a Code of Honor to encourage and promote integrity, humility, respect, leadership and service among its members.
Major forensic debate competitions include cross examination and Lincoln - Douglas contests, extempora neous speaking (informative and persuasive), and oral interpretation (prose and poetry). Duo interpretations, humorous interpretations and public forum debates are also common national competitions. The continued popularity of forensic competition lead to the creation of the Council of Forensic Organizations (COFO) in 1984. One of main reasons COFO was created was to establish a national tournament calender.
One of the most famous Houston debate coaches was former President Lyndon Johnson. In his book "The Path to Power," author Robert Caro writes that when the 22 - year - old Johnson started as a speech teacher at the then downtown Sam Houston High School for the 1930-31 session, the debate team had never won a city championship. That year, both the boys' and girls' debate teams went to the state tournament in Austin. The girls' team lost in an elimination round, while the boys' team made it to the state finals before losing by a single vote, 3.-2.
Forensic competition alumni have excelled in various endeavors. Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey created media conglomerates. Renee Zellweger and Patricia Neal won Academy Awards. Shelly Long and Kelsey Grammar received Emmys. Brian Lam founded CSPAN, a ground zero of public forum discussion. Not surprisingly, several United States senators participated in high school debate competitions, including Russ Feingold, William Frist and Richard Lugar. Before Supreme Court justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor asked questions from the bench, they debated topics in high school