Bear Saulet Judging Philosophy


The following information is probably relevant in some capacity if you find me in the back of the room. Adapt or die.

Experience: 3 years of California Community College NPDA at El Camino College, transferred and did 2 years of NPDA Debate at Concordia University Irvine. Many of my views on debate and debate pedagogy have been shaped by my upbringing in the Community College circuit as well as the coaching I received from K. Calderwood at Concordia.

General: Debate is first and foremost a competitive game. There are ancillary benefits including the education garnered through prolonged engagement in this activity, etc.-but debate at its core is a game, not about changing the world or the like.

  • Defense (especially terminal) is underutilized in most debates.

  • Demanding texts is absurd-go do policy if you want textual copies of arguments.

  • It is common courtesy to give at least one substantive question to the other team.

  • Partner communication is fine but could tank your speaks.

  • In the name of all things holy, please light up the case.

  • Topical engagement is good, if you aren’t remotely talking about the topic, I’m probably not all that interested.

Theory: Theory-based arguments are probably my least favorite subset of arguments in debate. That is to say, all things being equal, I would prefer to hear case debate or a criticism before theory. I don’t need articulated abuse, but I do need substantive explanations of how you’ve either already been abused or reasons why potential abuse is sufficient enough. Impact your standards. Read your interpretation slowly and clearly at least twice-have a written copy if necessary. If debating against critically framed arguments, it would behoove you to include a decision about how your procedurally framed arguments interact with their critically framed arguments. I default to Competing Interpretations on theory issues unless instructed otherwise. I also tend to think “Reject the Argument, not the Team” is persuasive aside from the Topicality and Condo debates. Spec is fairly silly, please don’t read it in front of me. Your Spec argument is presumably to protect your normal means-based link arguments, so just read those arguments on case.

Case: Being good at case debate is usually a good indicator of your fundamental debate skills. I appreciate seeing
well warranted PMC’s with organized and efficiently tagged internal link and impact modules. For the Neg, I appreciate an LOC that saves time to go to the case and answer the Aff line-by-line. Impact defense is severely under-utilized in most case debates.

Identity Based Criticisms: I would strongly prefer to not judge any rounds wherein competitors seek to leverage their personal identities, agencies, or social locations as an attempt to call for the ballot. Again, do what you must. However, I find these types of debates to be incredibly vacuous, narcissistic, and in some instances harmful to at least one or more of the debaters in the room. If you want the debate to solely be about you (or X group), I’m probably not the judge for you.

Performance: I find Performance to be a distinct but related category to the K. My partner once ate paper as our advocacy out of the 1AC-at nationals we performed a newscast of the topic. I am supportive of innovative ways of approaching the topic. That said, a few things to consider:

  • You should have a role of the ballot/judge argument (probably in your framework interp).

  • Explain how the opposing team ought to interact with your performance.

  • Explain the importance of your specific performance within the context of the topic.

  • Frame your impacts in a manner that is consistent with your performance.

The K: My favorite subset of arguments in debate. Criticisms should ideally have a framework (role of the judge/ballot), a Thesis (what your critical perspective is), Links, Impacts, and an Alt with accompanying Solvency arguments. If you don’t have a Thesis page, please make it clear what the thesis of your position is elsewhere. The best criticisms are directly rooted in the topic literature and are designed to internally link turn common opposition arguments/impacts. This means your K should probably turn the Aff (if Neg) or internally link turn topic Disads (if Aff). Reject Alternatives can be done well, but I appreciate Alternatives that are more nuanced. When reading the K, please highlight the interaction between your Framework and your Alternative/Solvency. These two should be jiving together in order to do what the K is all about-impact frame your opponents out of the round. I don’t care very much about your authors but more your ability to take the author’s theory and convey it to us persuasively within a given debate round. Name-dropping authors and books will get you nowhere quick in front of me. The literature bases I am most familiar with are:

  • Post-Structuralism

  • Critical Race Theory

  • Whiteness Studies

  • Gender Studies

  • Existentialism

  • Post Modernism

  • Rhetoric and Media Studies

CP Theory:

  • After debating Conditionally for a year and Unconditionally for a year, I found being Unconditional much more rewarding competitively and educationally. Who knows, maybe it was just having Big Cat as a coach. Either way, I’m fine with one Condo CP/Alt but am open to hearing and voting on Condo bad as well.

  • Delay is probably theoretically illegitimate (and just a bad arg).

  • Textual Competition is meant to protect against CP’s that are blatantly cheater anyways.

  • Not the biggest fan of Consult unless there’s a particularly strong literature base for it.

  • Read your CP text twice slowly and ideally have a written copy.

  • PICS are good.


  • Always only a test of competition

  • Should explain how the Permutation resolves the links/offense of the DA/K.

  • You don’t ever need 8 permutations. Read one or two theoretically sound perms with net benefits.

  • Sev/Intrinsic perms are probably not voting issues given they are merely tests of competitiveness.

Speaker Points: I start at a 27 and work up from there generally. The difference between a 29 and a 30 are the following:

  • Effective overviews that concisely summarize and contextualize sheets in the debate

  • Star Wars references/quips

  • Effective use of humor (Stay classy though, San Diego)

  • Pausing for Effect

  • Comparative warrant analysis: Stuff like, “prefer our uniqueness because it’s more predictive-all their
    depictions of the status quo are snapshot at best” followed by supporting warrants.

  • Effective use of Metaphors

  • I don’t like teams/debaters stealing prep. But let’s be blunt, everyone does it, so do it well I suppose.

  • Take at least one question in each constructive

Multiple Worlds: Most debaters struggle to competently and productively have a debate round based in one world-let alone multiple. I would prefer you not read multiple worlds in front of me.

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