Cory Freivogel Judging Philosophy



Hi! My name is Cory Freivogel. I did four years of policy debate in high school in the Chicago area. After that, I spent four years doing Lincoln Douglas and Parliamentary debate at McKendree University. I?m currently the assistant coach there.

I will preface this philosophy in the way that most people do - I think you should debate however you debate best in front of me. That being said, I obviously have certain biases and I think you should be familiar with them.

Some general notes?.

  1. I think debate is first and foremost a game. I think you should do whatever it takes to win that game, and I respect people who play the game with a lot of heart and lot of intensity.

  2. I like people who do work. This doesn?t mean that I won?t vote for lazy, trite strategies - I have no problem doing that. It just means I respect people who put in extra effort to develop or update sweet arguments.

  3. I like people that talk pretty. I certainly don?t think you should ever sacrifice strategy and execution for eloquence, but if you can give a smart speech that?s funny and engaging it will bode well for you. Also, don?t try to be funny if you?re not.

  4. Don?t dismiss defensive arguments. Of course I think you should be making a wide variety of offensive arguments, but do not assume you?ll be fine by saying that 9 smart, defensive answers to your affirmative are just defense.


I like these arguments a lot. Running well-researched disadvantages with a diverse set of link arguments and huge probable impacts is the easiest way into my heart. Generic disadvantages like politics, business confidence, etc. are fine as well so long as they?re specifically tailored to the affirmative and properly executed.

Similarly, I think smart negatives (and affirmatives as well) will do a great deal of work comparing impacts. If you do not do this I will make my own determination about the probability and magnitude of a disadvantage?s impact. I am also probably more concerned about probability than some other judges may be. I am not often impressed by massive impacts that are highly improbable and under-explained. Phrases like ?even a 1% risk of our impact outweighs the entire risk of the aff? are typically code for ?our impact is absurd and our disadvantage barely links.?


These arguments are sweet as well. I typically err negative on arguments like PIC?s bad, conditionality bad, etc. I will vote on these arguments, but it will be an uphill battle. The argument that I should reject the argument rather than the team is usually a winner. I think condition, consultation and other silly process counter plans are of questionable legitimacy and I can definitely be more persuaded to drop teams on theory if they?re extending these arguments. That being said I like counter plans of all shapes and sizes and think that if you aren?t reading one or straight turning the affirmative, then you?re probably in trouble.


I am not as hostile to these arguments as most people probably think I am. I am, however, probably as unlikely to understand these arguments as most people think I am. I have not and probably will not ever read any traditional or post-modern philosophy unless someone requires me to do so. I?m not trying to dog on anyone that does, but it?s just not my thang. This is mainly meant as a word of caution. If you run the kritik I will listen, flow and do my best to make a fair decision. But, I am not the best critic for you. If you somehow find me in the back of the room and you have nothing but your criticism, it will serve you well to slow down and eliminate all the jargon you imagine I may be familiar with.

That being said, if you?re an affirmative answering these arguments do not assume I will let you get away with answering kritiks poorly. If you mischaracterize the criticism, concede framework arguments, or rely on defense then I?ll probably notice and you?ll lose.


I like good topicality debates a lot. If you are affirmative, then you need to meet the interpretation or you need a counter interpretation. Absent one of those things, you will probably lose. If you are going for or answering topicality you should be comparing standards and voting issues in the same way that you compare impacts. If you do not compare standards, it will make it very difficult for me to make a good decision and it will be bad for everyone. I am also more persuaded by arguments about ground than limits. I could care less if your interpretation ?explodes the topic? given that the topic will only exist once and you don?t have to do any research in the future.


These arguments are really not my cup of tea. This is mostly because I don?t like giant pieces of shit in my tea. I understand the strategic utility of introducing these arguments in the LOC, but I cannot understand why one would choose to extend them in the MO unless there was some incredible example of abuse. It is difficult for me to imagine giving any higher than a 27 to even the most persuasive extension of a generic specification argument.


People forget about the case all the time. That makes me sad because I love a good case debate. If you?re the LOC and you don?t have an incredible counter plan, then you should be putting a lot of offense on the case. Similarly, the MG should be extending and utilizing the case throughout his or her speech. It frustrates me to no end when affirmative teams assume they can entirely ignore the case until the PMR when it suddenly becomes the focus of the debate. Personally, I think you should have to extend the affirmative throughout the debate.


I keep a pretty decent flow and think I can detect new arguments on my own. That being said, they are allowed by the rules and if you think there is a particularly egregious example of an abusive new argument feel free to call it. However, if I know an argument is new I will protect the opposite team regardless of whether or not you say it’s new. If you call a bunch of unnecessary points of order on teams just to disrupt their speech or be funny or whatever I will be very unhappy. I hated when teams did that when I debated and I imagine I will hate it even more as a judge. Don’t do it.


I think as a general rule you should probably accept two of these per speech. I could pretty easily be persuaded to pull the trigger on a “they didn’t take any questions” type of procedural. Also, no means no. If someone won’t take your question don’t yell that question or jump around waving your hands like an idiot or yelling “Please!! Just one!!” The only exceptions to this are in instances when you need to know the status of a counterplan or to have a text repeated / handed to you. I don’t think you should have to raise your hand to ask for those things. Maybe there is no legitimate justification for that, but that just happens to be what I think.


STRUCTURALLY - Arguments about why an impact is bigger, faster or more likely than another are not new. Reasons why one ore more of those things are more important than another are not new. I consider ?turns the case? arguments to be a type of impact comparison - their introduction in the LOR is a-okay with me. PMRs are definitely responsible for responding to the LOR. Important MO arguments should be referenced by the LOR but don?t need to be explicitly extended. I?m intrigued by the ?one new sheet? style of LOR but I think there is room for improvement.

SUBSTANTIVELY - Please avoid blazing through the LOR at top-speed and confidently restating your partner?s awesome arguments - it?s an outmoded affectation. If you?re sweating or gasping for air during the LOR then you’re doing it wrong. However, I think the ?There are three reasons why we win this debate: Magnitude, Timeframe and Probability?? style of LOR is played out. Context matters. Filling in the blanks of a pre-written LOR template is rarely persuasive. There are far more compelling ways to compare arguments. LOR?s should aim to explain the affirmative?s strategic mistakes in a way that influences how I evaluate the debate. LOR?s should coherently describe important interactions between arguments. At the very least, I think an LOR should provide a variety of reasons why I should vote negative and call into question the relevance and credibility of the PMR before it begins. You do that, and you?re golden.

COVERAGE - I wanted to make a point of discussing this because at some point late last season I found myself voting on weak impact prioritization arguments and extinction claims that others chose to disregard. I?ve found myself doing this more and more. I believe that Claim + Warrant = An Argument. Whether that warrant is fantastic, idiotic or just okay is not for me to decide. Conceded arguments are true arguments - no matter how stupid or abhorrent they might be (I?m looking at you ?Dehumanization outweighs everything!?). If you ignore a potentially round-changing argument because you thought it was dumb or you just missed it, you?re probably going to lose.

Some judges don?t vote on these types of arguments because they are not thoroughly explained, they aren?t ?fleshed out? or they aren?t given priority in the rebuttals. I understand and respect that philosophy, I just don?t share it. I am constantly pushing myself to keep a flow that is as organized and detailed as humanly possible. In the context of debate, I find few things more resplendently beautiful than an immaculate flow. There are no computers, blocks or prep time in this game. As such, It is impossible to become a great debater without first mastering the art of the flow. I refuse to reward debaters that do not excel at the fundamentals. Perhaps it is unfair of me to push my dorky fetishization of the flow onto you, but I’m going to do it anyways. You should be aware of that.

DISCLAIMER: I love good, smart debates with dope strategies on both sides. Please DO NOT use this philosophy to justify ruining the debate with a whole mess of garbage arguments. I?ll probably give you a 17 or have Ben Reid wring out his sweat-soiled clothes on you.

THE POLITICS DISADVANTAGE - I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the way politics debates are playing out. Arguments like “republicans like the plan” or “the plan costs political capital” are NOT arguments. These claims must be connected with a logical argument about why the plan is or is not consistent with the platform of either party or why it will be a tough fight in general. This can include relevant quotes, references to how similar policies were perceived, a clever explanation of how the plan will be spun, etc. Politics debates are contrived as is - no need to make them worse. PMR’s will get a great deal of flexibility when responding to link arguments that are not explained until the block.

Please don?t say something is at the top of the docket if it isn?t. I think thumpers are a devastatingly effective MG response to obscure politics disadvantages. Choose your scenario wisely.

In addition, even when teams are making smart arguments about why individuals, lobbies, parties, etc. support or oppose the plan they are rarely making arguments about why those groups are important. The plan costs political capital. So what? Mitch McConnell likes the plan. Who cares? The agricultural lobby would backlash. How so? Why are they relevant? Teams NEED to explain why the groups that would support or oppose the plan are capable of meaningfully influencing political decision-making.

I?d be pretty happy with a team that called out a poorly researched or illogical politics disadvantage even if that required making a number of?GASP?defensive arguments! In fact, I?d be much more receptive to the clever dismantling of a weakass disadvantage than the lazy deployment of a bunch of equally illogical link turns.

THE KRITIK - I find myself voting negative in kritik debates all the time. This is partially because teams are reading more strategic criticisms and getting better at explaining them to simpletons like myself (SIU RS and Oregon BG are particularly adept at this). But, I think it is mostly because of the way that affirmatives answer the K.

In parli, I have watched team after team respond to kritiks line by line, never thinking about the utility of the arguments they are making. You don?t need to (and will never be able to) adequately respond to all the different arguments contained within any kritik. So stop trying! It gets you nowhere. I have seen crafty kritik debaters effortlessly do away with countless affirmative arguments. This is because the MG was just answering things rather than making offensive, round-winning arguments. Take a second and think about whether what you?re saying could win you the debate or keep you from losing it. If it can?t, then don?t waste your time. You must learn to identify the important stuff, answer it effectively, and execute a strategy of your own. Unless you do that, I?ll probably vote negative.

RANDOM STUFF ? I flow kritiks on one sheet of paper. I flow MG answers top to bottom on that same sheet of paper. It is how I have always done it. Doing it otherwise messes up my flow and confuses me. If I am forced to separate all the components of a kritik I will do it. Just be warned, this only serves to screw up my organization in a type of debate where I’m already behind the curve. There is not “our framework” and “their framework” there is only framework. Have that debate in the same place.

I think that PICS on topics that require you to pass a single piece of legislation or defend some other massive, multi-faceted policy action are unfair. Theory interpretations which allow PICs sometimes but exclude them in specific instances are deadly in front of me. Conditionality is good.

I think it is awesome that so many debaters know so many things about biology, chemistry, space and other sciencey things. Unfortunately, I got a B- in Wildlife Ecology at a community college. Think about that when writing your moon density disad / synthetic H3 counterplan strat. I’m not an idiot, this just isn’t a field that peaks my interests. In science debates slow the hell down and clearly explain things to me. Think of how you would debate if you had Than Hedman or Will Van Treuren in the back and then do the exact opposite of that.

Some things I love ? Clash of civilization debates, deep impact debates, topic specific disads, case debates, strategic concessions, taking risks, funny jokes, great speakers, good politics disads, LOR’s that influence my decision, clever tricks, good research (ESPECIALLY at tournaments with topic areas), capitalizing on small mistakes, asking good questions, taking notes after a debate, movie references, going hard to the right, reg neg, sweetass affirmatives, good defense and most importantly ? an unwavering drive to win every debate you are in.

Some things I hate ? Racism, sexism, laziness, sloppy debates, whining, nonsense ?dehumanization? impacts, reading a bunch of bad link turns, bad jokes, ignoring good defense, consult counterplans, not doing research, not affirming the topic, constantly staking the round on things, points of order, relying on counter-intuitive strategies for no reason, ice age coming now, assuming ?no warrant? is an answer, not comparing impacts, ?the google test? standard, trying to win a ?no link? argument to the K, reading the plan and counterplan text together instead of saying ?do both? (and saying that do both is insufficient), and most importantly ? lying.


You can go as fast you like so long as you?re clear. I went pretty quick when I debated and its unlikely that I won?t be able to flow your speech. I do, however, think you should slow down when reading topicality arguments, procedurals and important texts (plans, alternatives, permutations, etc.). I like things to be specific which means copying down an accurate text is pretty important to me. If I can?t I will let you know. Dress however you want. I honestly do not care what you?re wearing or what you look like. Don?t be an asshole. This doesn?t mean you can?t clown on other teams or debate intensely in important rounds (I?d actually prefer that you did). What it does mean is that you probably shouldn?t run up the score on or totally embarrass obviously weaker teams for no reason. It also means you shouldn?t make racist / homophobic / sexist / whateverist comments.

Also, rights malthus makes sense to me. Take from that what you will.

I suppose that?s it. Debate hard, debate smart, and have fun. If you have any further questions feel free to let me know

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