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 Post subject: Deciding On A Case
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:16 am 
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Promoted from Court Jester
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Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 4:43 am
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Location: Region 5
So I am trying to decide if there is a case out there that I like, and I was curious as to how everyone else decided on their case. If you would be willing to share your thought process, or philosophy on how you decide what case you run, that would be amazing. I'll go first. :)

Usually, I go through every sourcebook and get to know what each of the cases are about. Then I start the process of elimination. I do this in "rounds", where each "round" I eliminate a few cases at a time until there are only two or three cases left. Then I look more in depth at the remaining two or three cases. I look at: the case idea, affirmative strength, and negative strength. Then I look at it all from a cost-benefit analysis standpoint, and see which case weighs out most heavily in the favor off the the aff. If there isn't a sourcebook generated idea that I like, I write my own original case idea. But I usually start with the skeletal frame/idea from a sourcebook, and then do a massive overhaul.

I'd love to hear other's ideas!

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Spencer Downing
Hillsdale College
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 Post subject: Re: Deciding On A Case
PostPosted: Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:21 am 
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A case should be your castle. It's something that should be a guaranteed win for you, so that no matter how bad your negative rounds go, you should be confident in at least a 3-3 record. Most people look at a case and notice that there's a lot of evidence or a lot of arguments against it and consider it a bad case. This is not true.

The most important thing with a case is your responses to the negative's arguments. If your responses to their arguments are clearly correct, then you will win.

My last year I had 3 different cases at some point during the year, one case went 11-2, another case was 19-2, and the case we ran at the last tournament of the year and NITOC was 13-0. We only lost one affirmative outround all year, simply because we were ready for the negatives arguments. If your responses are strong enough, you will win.

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 Post subject: Re: Deciding On A Case
PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 5:18 pm 
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Philosophy: The best of the best debaters do original research and seek to understand a topic. My personal case-picking philosophy is do LOTS of reading (at a library or in LexisNexis) and find a point of advocacy you like. Never buy any sourcebooks (if you do at all) until after you've picked a case. Then you can see if something is truly grand, but you'll not use it 90% of the time.

Looking through what other people have filtered for you to find a case is kind of novice.

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 Post subject: Re: Deciding On A Case
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:00 am 
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Isaiah wrote:
Philosophy: The best of the best debaters do original research and seek to understand a topic. My personal case-picking philosophy is do LOTS of reading (at a library or in LexisNexis) and find a point of advocacy you like. Never buy any sourcebooks (if you do at all) until after you've picked a case. Then you can see if something is truly grand, but you'll not use it 90% of the time.

Looking through what other people have filtered for you to find a case is kind of novice.


I kind of disagree. I picked up the custodial interrogations case from the source, researched the heck out of it, and made it into a tank. We had a 23-3 record, as far as I recall, two of the losses to the same team. And we've never been strong speakers. If a team like funkhouser/sefzik had run our version of the case, I'm confident they wouldn't have lost a round legitimately.

It's definitely possible to take a sourcebook case and do well as long as you revolutionize it and research a bunch.

As for it being "novice", or "cheap" to do, I don't honestly care. Whatever case helps me do well, I'll run. I don't care where it comes from. Yes, it takes more skill to find your own case. Okay. So what? If the sourcebook case is better still, I'll run the sourcebook case. If my own case will be better, I'll run that.

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 Post subject: Re: Deciding On A Case
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:26 am 
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i think what isaiah was trying to say is that sourcebooks shouldn't be the first place you look for a case, or the only place. he didn't say that you shouldn't buy sourcebooks at all, but he did say that before you do, you should be reading, which i completely agree with. after you've read a lot about the resolution and found one or more plans that you like, then you buy a sourcebook and see if they found any affs you didn't, and then you pick your case. isaiah is the boss-man for ethos, i don't think he's gonna tell anyone not to run a sourcebook case just because it's in a sourcebook. but he's not going to tell you to simply pick the best case out of the sourcebook cases.

personally, i think the process can work in reverse as well. i don't think that looking through sourcebook affs first hurts, as long as you also do original research, understand the topic, and look for advocacy that may not be in a sourcebook.

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- Will

2010-11 | Freshman | Bardsley/King | IX | 13th at Regionals
2011-12 | Sophomore | Dovel/King | IX | Q'd to Nationals
2012-13 | Junior | Dovel/King | IX | 17th at Nationals
2013-14 | Senior | Dovel/King | IX | 5th at Nationals

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 Post subject: Re: Deciding On A Case
PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:08 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:40 am
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Sourcebooks are a blessing for beginners in small or rebuilding clubs. It's great to have a model to follow when you're still struggling to master the basics. It's better still to apprentice yourself to a more experienced debater who can explain what she's doing at every step, but not everyone has that.

Sourcebooks become a stumbling block for intermediate to advanced debaters who make the mistake, not always conscious, of letting the books frame the topic for them, telling them what a topical affirmative really looks like, what their options are, and what strategies are winning strategies. They're much better off analyzing the topic, doing a lot of background reading, sweeping the library, and then using sourcebooks to discover pockets of the topic they'd overlooked. Best of all is when they use the sourcebooks only as compilations of cites, and re-cut every useful article themselves, because even if they cut the exact same cards, the work put in reading the paragraphs between the cards and digesting all the details that get boiled down out of the argument will make them a thousand percent more authoritative on those issues.

It's a lot more work that way, but the people who win consistently are invariably the ones who put in a lot more work. Several of my fellow coaches over the years have dropped the opinion on me that the winner in any particular debate will be the team that wants it more. I agree with that, but I don't think you best judge it by the conduct observable between 1AC and 2AR; I think the test of it comes in the pre-tournament, and even pre-season, prep.


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 Post subject: Re: Deciding On A Case
PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2012 7:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 1:21 pm
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I fully agree. The least important prep time is the 5 min. during the round. The prep time that matters is the month before the tournament. The month or months before the tournament is when most rounds are won or lost. Most rounds are won by the team that was better prepared going in.

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 Post subject: Re: Deciding On A Case
PostPosted: Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:02 pm 
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Promoted from Court Jester
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Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 4:43 am
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Location: Region 5
The wisdom in the last 6 responses is astounding. Thank you all so much, gentlemen. I am applying the different bits of brilliance from each response. Each of you are so helpful. I am kicking these ideas around in my head. Thank you so much!!

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Spencer Downing
Hillsdale College
Charger Nation


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