Why I Love Debate Briefs | Champion Briefs
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September 1, 2022

Why I Love Debate Briefs

By Nathan Johnston

Lincoln-Douglas and Public Forum Debate challenge students and coaches alike to become experts on a new topic in a matter of weeks. Often, participants are presented philosophical issues or questions about regions of the world with which they may be largely unfamiliar. While coaches may have spent years honing their craft as instructors on the intricacies of debate events and students may be at the pinnacle of their competitive careers, that doesn’t necessarily mean we know everything there is to know about high-speed rail or international pharmaceutical patent law the day a new topic is released.

Luckily, debate briefs help close the gap in knowledge; thus, making jumping into a new topic a less daunting task.

Topic Analyses

The topic analyses in debate briefs are invaluable resources for educators to understand the topic and for students to take initial steps at directing their research.

I have been involved in debate for over fifteen years and have now coached full-time for a decade. There have been numerous times where I’ve found myself scouring periodicals or the internet trying to catch up on the information related to the topic. No matter how much research I do, there are always different angles, schools of thought, or information that I don’t encounter in this initial deep dive.

Champion Briefs has multiple writers providing a topic analysis for each new resolution, each with unique interests, background knowledge, and research techniques. As a result, each of their positions on the resolution teaches me something new about the topic area and in-turn provides me an increased depth of knowledge to help train my students on a new topic. Their ability to provide background information, resolution breakdowns, strategic considerations, and potential arguments are key to early understanding of the resolution.

These analyses introduce the topic to students in a digestible, easy-to-read way that help them approach topics that otherwise seem foreign. Additionally, the general information portion of the brief provides information about the core of the topic for those who simply want baseline information on the topic area. These tools are important in shaping coach and student understanding each new topic and can help guide the approach to argumentation.

Intro to Arguments

Once we have some understanding of the topic area, it is time to start writing arguments.

Champion Briefs provides a variety of potential positions on both sides of the resolution as well as credible evidence to support those positions. Briefs are not meant to be the extent of students’ research, rather, they’re a tool to help students understand the type of evidence that’s out there and the areas that they should focus their research efforts. These sections help students become better researchers.

The analysis provided for each argument helps me as a coach and my students understand the arguments and quickly isolate what positions they are interested in running on the topic. Just as importantly, the potential arguments help jumpstart our understanding of what arguments other debaters may be making; thus, helping inform what arguments we need to add to our block file. This significantly reduces the potential for being completely caught off-guard by an opponent’s arguments in our early rounds on a topic.

How to Use Briefs

As a coach, I primarily use briefs to increase my topic knowledge, inform my initial topic analysis with my students, and provide some information on the core arguments of the topic.

I have always viewed briefs as introductory material to supplement our ongoing research endeavors. Coaches and students alike have a finite amount of time to work on debate. Briefs are an invaluable tool to maximize the efficiency of that time. Providing topic analysis reading as homework, having students summarize an argument from the brief or respond to one as an early drill, or simply helping us learn what the topic is about are all made possible by the accessibility of debate briefs.

I encourage coaches and students alike to find a brief service that they enjoy and subscribe. They truly are one of the best resources at the beginning of each new topic.

Good luck!