The Debate Team: Why the Lack of Support?

By Eileen Cruz

The debate team is one of the most competitive and successful teams in Tech. Yet, not many people know of the debate team and their accomplishments.

Masha Morozov ’16, a member of the debate team, says the team “gets put on the school website like sports teams,” so students and faculty should be aware of their accomplishments.

Although this is true, Aisha Thermindor ’16 remarks that while the victories of the team do appear on the website, “no individual awards are announced like for sports teams.”

One instance in which the announcement of the debate team’s success has been misguided was after the Newark Invitational Tournament that took place February 1st and 2nd.

The article on bths.edu “focused on the rivalry between Tech and Bronx Science,” Thermidor says.

The headline was “Debate Dominates Bx Sci in Newark,” and stated that the debaters “advanced over arch-rivals Bronx Science in five of the single-elimination final rounds.” Individual awards and other contestants were not mentioned, even though there were many schools participating in the large tournament. This focus on rivalries detracts from the success of individual members of the team.

Adam Stevens, history teacher and debate coach, believes that debate “gets less attention than some sports programs” because we don’t have “home games” after-school that are easy for students to come and see.

Transportation to and from tournaments is another issue.

Thermindor observes that “sports teams get better transportation methods.” The debate team is required to take public transportation, rather than coach buses. Furthermore, most tournaments take place out of state, which makes it difficult for Technites to come and cheer the debaters on.

Morozov adds that each student on the team must “pay their dues for each tournament, because of how expensive it is.”

When it comes to funding, Stevens finds it “misguided that NY State and the DOE fail to dedicate funding for interscholastic academic teams similar to way they do for the PSAL.” Because of this, it becomes an arduous task to attract teachers to unfunded coaching jobs that may exceed the hours some athletic coaches work.

Stevens also goes on to say that while none of the teams, academic or athletic, have the level of funding they might desire, “our academic teams (math, debate, robotics, etc.) work from a lower starting budget every year and still manage to turn in impressive results.”

Fortunately, there are organizations such as the New York City Urban Debate League that help fund our debate team, as it is one of the most successful in the NYCUDL.

Despite the debate team’s strong showing at recent tournaments, there are still actions that must be taken to improve how the team operates.

Morozov says, “advertising the team’s tournaments and wins would help boost support.”

As with any competitive team, improvements in maintaining and supporting the team are always welcome. However, the debate team, despite the difficult obstacles it faces, continues to win.

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