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 Post subject: Spreading
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:08 am 
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What is everyone's opinion of spreading as a tactic? Is it inherently sketchy or is it a valuable resource?

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:35 am 
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If I spread, and I can't say that I remember doing so, I don't intend to. If a case has so many obvious holes, then it seems smarter to pick the easiest and most obvious ones and spend time making them make sense to the judge instead of simply running them alongside weaker ones.
Ultimately it's making a bunch of arguments that you hope may strike a nerve with the judge and hoping that the Affirmative team doesn't have enough time to adequately refute them--rather than MAKING an argument relevant to a judge or REFUTING the analysis of the Affirmative team.
At the same time, some cases lend themselves to spreading because they are so full of holes.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 3:39 pm 
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I'm of the opinion that spreading (effectively) is impossible in the NCFCA. You can't really spread unless the judge knows what he's doing and can catch all of your arguments and "get the drift" of what you're saying right when you start to say it. If you try to spread on a lay judge you're just gambling that they picked up on the arguments which you eventually carry the first time and that the arguments you carry aren't among those that the judge inevitably missed.

It's less sketchy and more the negative shooting themselves in the foot.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:31 pm 
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100% judge adaptation. If your judge is fine with it, there's not much of an argument against it. The skills taught by coping with it are valuable.


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:33 am 
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But, on the flip side, it takes skill to spread productively.

Most speakers have a speed/conciseness tradeoff that almost entirely cancels out the effects of speaking speed. If you talk quickly, you'll find yourself using more words and having a harder time getting your point across clearly. If you talk slowly, you can say pretty much the same thing in pretty much the same amount of time, but with more precise, concise, and clear phrasing.

This is why I always advise anyone who speaks above a conversational pace to slow down and focus on phrasing. If you're coherent when you're fast, you'll be eloquent when you're slow.

The corollary for spreading: An untrained debater won't accomplish much just by talking fast. Effective spreading takes disciplined efficiency and speaking skill, not just a high WPM.

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Sat Mar 28, 2015 2:46 am 
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Sharkfin wrote:
I'm of the opinion that spreading (effectively) is impossible in the NCFCA. You can't really spread unless the judge knows what he's doing and can catch all of your arguments and "get the drift" of what you're saying right when you start to say it. If you try to spread on a lay judge you're just gambling that they picked up on the arguments which you eventually carry the first time and that the arguments you carry aren't among those that the judge inevitably missed.


Unlike the NFL (not the football league), NCFCA judges aren't trained to understand spreading.

To me, it seems as if spreading is a form of art. When you're debating people who practice spreading (as NFL debaters do) it makes sense to spread. When you're debating folks who oftentimes look down on spreading (at least, in Reg10n, spreading isn't exactly admired) I don't see why spreading is necessary.

JohnMarkPorter1 wrote:
At the same time, some cases lend themselves to spreading because they are so full of holes.


True, but at the same time, it might be more effective to pick the strongest arguments, set them up "perfectly," and win over the judge 100% on just 6 arguments rather than rushing through 16.

From observation and experience, judges in the NCFCA appear to value a slower pace when awarding speaker points. When I first started debating (I believe Anthony can attest to what I'm about to say ;) ), I spoke...fairly quickly. Most judges understood me because I enunciated clearly, but I always was asked to slow down on ballots. It took a few years (sadly, haha) for me to figure out how to, as MSD mentioned in his post, "slow down and focus on phrasing." Last year, I focused a lot on "word economy." It seemed to help--I received a speaker award at every qualifier. Of course, a speaker award isn't the ultimate goal during a tournament and I'm not guaranteeing speaking slower will earn you a speaker award, but just thought I'd throw that in there.


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:04 pm 
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While I like the concept of "rhetorical spreading," they need to be GOOD arguments. Unfortunately in my experience I've seen "rhetorical spreading" on nit-picky arguments that shouldn't hold much weight in a debate round. In a debate round it should be about presenting truthful, strong arguments that hold water. If you are presenting 20 arguments that you know that the Affirmative team could defeat if given enough time but figure that they won't because of your strategy, then I would consider the spreading to be abusive, even if the arguments sound good from rhetorical standpoint. Furthermore, it doesn't yield to a debate that judges would enjoy. Simply put, have well-fleshed out strong arguments from the Negative, even if they are only 3 or 4 arguments total, should destroy a case better than 20 good sounding points.

Also, if a judge realizes that the Aff destroyed all of the negative team's argumentation that it had time to respond too (maybe Aff drops the final 3 or 4 nit-picky ones) the judge tends to give them the benefit of the doubt.

It's all about HOW you present it. A judge will recognize a spread. If you come up in the 2NR and say "Well Aff didn't respond to points K through P and therefore it is an admission by omission and therefore the 2AR can't respond because we didn't get a 3NR . . . (blah blah blah)" then it sounds really nasty to the judge and it could be bad. If I were to spread a case then I would explain to the judge exactly what I was doing and why I was doing it (Because I thought that EACH and EVERY one of my arguments trumped the Affirmative team's case).

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 6:27 pm 
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Has the term spreading morphed into something different since I've been out?

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 3:59 pm 
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The term itself has been around debate since before I was born, if you can believe that. Some people use it to mean speaking rapidly, and others use it to mean making tons of arguments. The two measures are independent of one another: you can talk slowly and make a lot of arguments if you are sufficiently word economical, and you can make a single argument with a limited set of premises, but do it while talking at warp speed. The tons of arguments meaning makes a bit more sense, because one facet of the concept is the idea that the opponent is "spread out" by having so many arguments to cover, but my sense is that the rapid delivery meaning is the more common one.


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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:11 pm 
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Can it be both?

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:21 pm 
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Good teams will use the "tons of arguments" approach when spreading and they don't talk fast. However, spreading has become synonymous with talking fast because the Affirmative team (especially if they aren't the same par as the Affirmative team) feels pressed for time and will speed up in order to address the points (A well-experienced team will lump the arguments, but it can be difficult). From a probability standpoint you can have 4 versions of the debate:
1. Neg spreads fast - Aff responds fast - VERY POOR DEBATE
2. Neg spreads "slow" - Aff responds fast - POOR DEBATE (Weighted Neg)
3. Neg spreads fast - Aff responds by lumping - POOR DEBATE (Weighted Aff)
4. Neg spreads "slow" - Aff responds by lumping - GOOD DEBATE
In most rounds one team has to start talking fast eventually and then the debate seems to go a bit downhill (if you define a debate that way).
I would classify both as spreads because their intent is to get as many arguments out as possible in a limited amount of time. However, the "slow" spread has a far more convincing approach and the presentation is cleaner. Scenarios 2 and 4 are examples of good spreads by the Neg that aren't too sketchy (so long as they have solid argumentation).

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:58 am 
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What I think it comes down to is whether you really believe in your arguments... If you really believe in 1-2 arguments, then just run those. This whole idea of spreading the AFF with many arguments doesn't make for a good debate. What it is really saying is: "We don't feel confident in this one, really in depth, argument... Thus we are going to present ten arguments and hope that one of them sticks..." If we are debating about "Truth" than our arguments should be truthful and RIGHT! Thus, it shouldn't be hard to delve deeper into an argument, perhaps even 3-4 layers deep. By choosing 1-3 in depth, good arguments for a round, you are really able to flush out the issue and have a very educational debate. :) (FTR, I have seen many teams utilize this philosophy and be extremely effective. I have also seen teams spread almost every negative round *cough* Razi *Cough*... :P and be just as effective.)

All in all, I'd say that spreading doesn't allow you to have an in depth debate.... it only allows you to say many many things (Which can be fun in its own way).

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 Post subject: Re: Spreading
PostPosted: Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:25 am 
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Despite my probable reputation as guy who thinks everything in college is better, I'm actually rather apathetic about this. It is simply true that if you are good at speaking quickly, which is what most people mean when they say spreading, makes for more in depth debate rounds because you can say more. But that doesn't mean going fast for the sake of going fast is good.

Speed is kind of like nuclear proliferation during the Cold War. I'm going to use an example of a debate round between me and Spencer Orlowski, a debater who was about as good as me and about as fast as me. Spencer and I could go slow, and are both good when going slow. We can also go fast, and are good at going fast. If I'm aff, its in my best interest to go fast because he can put more coverage on my aff if there is less there. It is in his best interest to go fast because then I can put less coverage on his positions. If we both go fast, it comes down to quality of arguments and word economy, just it would if we both went slow. The only real difference is the amount of arguments it takes to get us to that point (more if we fast, less if we don't) and the judge. I think its beneficial to go fast because it allows for 1) more strategic options for the aff and neg (Ks, CPs, in-depth Ts, etc are less viable at slower speeds), 2) more arguments and therefore more education, 3) more in depth debate in rebuttals because there is more to go off of, 4) you get the scientifically proven benefits of going fast, and 5) it's just more fun. If your experiences with people going fast are different, I would argue that you simply haven't seen someone do it well.

NFA-LD is one of the only debate leagues where speed is acceptable, but the rules protect people who either can't go fast or don't want to go fast. The faster debater is supposed to slow down to an equatable level. With rare exceptions, I would very rarely try to go fast enough that I knew my opponents couldn't respond. That honestly never bothered me because going speed takes a lot of work to learn. If my opponent hadn't put in enough time to learn how to talk at speed or flow at speed, it was incredibly unlikely that they would beat me going slower. So for me speed doesn't overly matter, its just one of many tools that a debater can use to do well.

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