Roger Copenhaver's Philosophy


Most recently updated for NPTE/NPDA 2016


This year will be my 10th year in the activity. I debated for 3 years in high school at Puyallup High School (2006-2009) and 4 in college at Idaho State University (CEDA/NDT)/The University of Oregon (2009-2013). I only did parli at like 4 tournaments during my year at Oregon. I have coached parli for multiple schools since then. Ben Dodds, Tom Schalley, Sarah Hamid, and Will Chamberlin all shaped my understanding of the activity.

Current affiliation: University of Washington

How I decide debates: I believe that a balance between tech and truth is important in debate. I tend to see and evaluate debates holistically. I am also very flow oriented. I try my best to keep a good flow of the debate. You should frame the end of the debate around important central questions to get my ballot.

I prefer to watch fast, technical, efficient, and witty debaters.

Framework: My views on framework seem to have changed every year since I finished my college career. I will try to clarify my views since I ended up in more clash debates last year than in the past. While I believe that the topic is the stasis point for discussion and while I belive that can mean a variety of things for different people, I do believe that framework is a viable negative strategy and an essential part of the negative toolbox. I don’t think framework is the only strategy, but I do think it is one of many. I have been a little bit annoyed with how many teams just talk about whatever they want to talk about just because. You should be able to justify what you do. I am not going to intervene in a framework debate, but if a neg is good at executing a framework debate and the aff doesn’t have a good defense as to why you did what you did, I am very wiling to vote for framework. The last tip for winning framework debates in front of me, is to make sure that you win impacts to your args and don’t have just a bunch of internal links.

Counterplans: What is theoretically legitimate is open for debate. I try to enter the debate without any biases for what debaters should be allowed to talk about. With that being said, I probably still think that counterplans should compete in some capacity and provide and opportunity cost to the affirmative. I typically lean neg on questions of theory. Truthfully most “cheating” counterplans are bad and should be easy to beat because they are bad. Lastly, I think judge kick is stupid. I will do it if I am told to, but I am persuaded that 2N’s should have to think strategically and should be held accountable to their 2NR choice. I do think that AFF’s should exploit the difference between the CP and the AFF.

Disadvantages: While I find a lot of the intricacies of the politics debate interesting, I think the politics DA is stale. That is not to say that I won’t vote for it. Obviously politics is an essential component of the negatives toolbox. However, I think topic DA’s and DA’s specific to the AFF are way more interesting to listen to, and often times a much better strategy entering the debate.

K/Performance Debate: Controlling meta level questions for the debate is necessary. This is the type of debate that I have the most experience with. I rather see a debate where people are willing to defend something specific and generate offensive arguments from it rather then saying they are everything and nothing. You should be able to justify what you do. AFF’s should get permutations regardless of the type of debate that is happening. Debate is a competition and negative teams have the burden of meeting some standard for competition. I don’t think the alt has to solve the AFF. I think the alt needs to at least resolve a substantial amount of the link to the AFF. It makes much more sense to me to conceptualize the link debate as mini DA’s to the AFF and the impact section of the debate as impact framing.

Other miscellaneous things:

Flowing and good line by line debate is a lost art. You will be greatly rewarded if you do good line by line debate.

Bad embedded clash is almost impossible to follow and I probably won’t get arguments where they should be.

Most of the time I keep a pretty good flow and I have typically found that my flow reflects the quality of the debate in terms of efficiency and debate technique.
Framework vs. framing – to me, framework is what should be allowed in the debate, and framing is what impacts should come first. I think these two things often times become conflated. To me, unless otherwise stated, the role of the ballot, judge, etc… are all just impact framing issues.

Aff framework vs. the K is silly and neither team is going to generate traction in front of me spending substantial time here.

Debate is fun. I hope that you debate because you love this activity. I also like judging debates when debaters are intelligent, witty, funny, and engaged. I have zero tolerance for people that destroy the pedagogical values of this activity or that make this activity an unsafe, violent, or unpleasant space for other participants.

Parli Things:

K’s are one argument and I will flow them on one piece of paper. It makes zero sense to compartmentalize the debate into small sections that don’t assume each other.

Conditionality is good. Bad arguments should lose debates. Competition also sets a standard for what is legitimate. And there is only a limited number of good counterplans especially considering you have limited prep. This is not to say I won’t vote on conditionality bad, but if that is your A strat - 1. you are not really making strategic decisions 2. you obviously don’t care about the substance of the debate and 3. I will probably be annoyed because it is almost always the worse option to go all in on theory.

Point of orders are silly. I can flow and will evaluate the debate based off of my flow. I understand they have some strategic utility, but tbh, I would prefer you not call them.

Unless it is an accessibility issue, or your performance requires it, I think sitting down is a bad idea. I have heard people all year sound like terrible speakers while sitting. This will probably impact your speaker points at nationals.

You should debate the case. This does not mean “CP solves this adv,” “DA turns this impact,” but rather an in-depth case debate where you develop a variety of case arguments that benefit your LOC strat.

You should be able to make pivots while/after the PMC is read. Too many people just read the LOC they prepped, but don’t make any modifications based on the PMC, which makes the debate stale, and also puts you in a worse position as the negative.

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