Month: June 2009

NFL (NSDA) Nationals 2009: Chen Triumphs, Larson Avenges ’08 Defeat, and Bellarmine College Prep Rolls

The 2009 NFL National Tournament has recently concluded in nflbamaBirmingham, Alabama. After five brutal days of competition, Stacey Chen of North Allegheny Senior High School in Pennsylvania emerged victorious in International Extemp by one rank and Evan Larson of Bellarmine College Prep in California captured the United States Extemp championship by a three rank margin. As a team, Bellarmine College Prep had an impressive showing, with second and third place finishes in IX to accompany Larson’s win.  Meanwhile, CFL National Champion Alex Draime was denied a bid to capture a second national championship, as he placed fourth in U.S. extemp.

Below are a listing of final results. A more complete listing can be found here.

International Extemp:

National Champion: Stacey Chen (North Allegheny Senior HS, Pennsylvania)
2nd: Will Rafey (Bellarmine College Prep, California)
3rd: Jacob Baker (Bellarmine College Prep, California)
4th: Luke R. Brinker (Topeka HS, Kansas)
5th: Sesenu Woldemariam (Lamar HS, Texas)
6th: Ryan Pollock (Mount Lebanon Senior HS, Pennsylvania)

Final Round National Champion: Stacey Chen

United States Extemp:

National Champion: Evan Larson (Bellarmine College Prep, California)
2nd: Taman Narayan (Leland HS, California)
3rd: Nicholas Cugini (Cypress Ridge HS, Texas)
4th: Alex Draime (Howland HS, Ohio)
5th: Tyler D. Fabbri (Chesterton HS, Indiana)
6th: John Mern (J.P. Taravella HS, Florida)

Final Round National Champion: Taman Narayan

To find out how this impacted the final results of the national points race, check Extemp Central by the end of the week when final individual and team points standings will be released!

Extemp Questions for the Week of June 10th-16th, 2009

1. How much of a setback is the Lebanese election result for Iran? questions
2. Will Obama’s speech in Cairo lead to a breakthrough in American-Muslim relations?
3. Should the Federal Reserve be buying Treasury securities?
4. Will the Iranian presidential election go to a second round?
5. How will the election of conservatives to the European Parliament affect the body?
6. What is the likelyhood of Congress passing anti-China trade legislation by the end of the year?
7. Will Omar al-Bashir’s visit to Zimbabwe hurt the country’s attempt at getting foreign aid?
8. Should California cut welfare benefits to save the state budget?
9. Can governments successfully use social networking sites to their advantage?
10. How should Obama handle North Korea?

These will be the last questions of the 2008-2009 season. New questions will be posted on the site during the first Tuesday in August. Extemp Central thanks you for another great season! An NFL wrap up and final national points race standings will be posted over the next two weeks.

The EX Files: From the Publisher

xmas-partyIt is hard to imagine that the 2008-2009 competitive year is nearing its end. From Wake Forest to Albany, New York, the season has provided many twists and turns for extempers all across the country. Next week all eyes will converge on Birmingham, Alabama for the extemp version of “glory’s last shot.” NFL will the time when many seniors give the final extemp speeches of their careers and for many that dream will come to an end well before the final round. However, all achievements of personal glory can be seen as relative. For some, simply making the national tournament is the culmination of a career of hard work, while for others anything less than a national championship will result in disappointment.

This edition of The Ex Files will have a staple of Extemp Central of the last two years. Last year’s International Extemp runner-up Omar Qureshi has written a topic area analysis for International extempers while Colin West (2006 US Extemp National Champion) and myself (2003 US Extemp Final Round National Champion) have collaborated on the topic area analysis for U.S. extempers. This edition also includes a topic brief on North Korea, a national tournament psychology summary by Qureshi, an extensive overview of the NFL National tournament by 2002 International Extemp runner-up Mark Royce, a discussion of extemp styles by Sebastian Pyrek, and then an NFL roundtable discussion with Michael Garson (2005 International Extemp finalist), Royce, and myself.

This is the last edition of The Ex Files for the 2008-2009 competitive year. We are pleased by the amount of support given to us by the extemp community and we hope to provide you with another year of topic briefs, topic area analysis, and strategy articles for the next competitive year. Announcements about additions to staffing for next year’s magazine will be made on the website over the summer and any suggestions for future content can be directed to me at [email protected]. Thank you for your continued support of the site and this magazine and thank you to all of those who have contributed results and feedback to me this season. On behalf of myself and the staff of The Ex Files, good luck to all the extempers competing at NFL!

Logan Scisco

NFL Nationals Edition (Volume 1, No. 7)
All links below are to PDF versions of the individual articles.

Complete NFL Nationals Edition (.pdf file)
From the Publisher
by Logan Scisco
Extemp Central National Points Race by Logan Scisco
2009 NFL Nationals International Extemp Topic Area Analysis by Omar Quershi
2009 NFL Nationals United States Extemp Topic Area Analysis by Colin West and Logan Scisco
NFL Roundtable Discussion by Michael Garson, Mark Royce, and Logan Scisco
Extemporaneous Speaking at NFL Nationals
by Mark Royce
National Tournament Psychology
by Omar Quershi
On Developing Style by Sebastian Pyrek
Topic Brief: North Korean Aggression by Logan Scisco

Extemporaneous Speaking at NFL (NSDA) Nationals

questionsBy: Mark Royce[1]

The National Forensic League annual tournament is the largest, most prestigious, and most competitive high school speech and debate contest, as well as one of the greatest exhibitions of oratorical talent in the English-speaking world.  About two hundred competitors from across the country enter in one of the nine main events, and an epic sequence of elimination rounds over the course of an entire week determines the chosen few who shall perform in front of a sizable audience.  No other forensics tournament, the gilded podiums of the national circuit included, attracts the same measure of talent or bestows the same glory on its victors.  This year’s tournament will be held June 14-19 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Nationals is the hardest tournament, and this article is concerned specifically with the hardest event, Extemporaneous Speaking.  I write on the assumption that the reader is familiar with the format and terminology of extemp, and therefore we may concentrate our attention upon what is unique to the Nationals experience.  Categorization being prominent among the skills of extempers, past or present, I shall divide my composition into two main parts, the first providing a chronological guide to the ins and outs of the tournament, and the second disclosing a somewhat secret formula for constructing speeches based on the Nationals topic areas.

2009 NFL (NSDA) Nationals United States Extemp Topic Area Analysis

topicbriefBy Colin West & Logan Scisco

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Due to some topic areas being reused on a yearly basis by the National Forensic League, some of Colin’s analysis that appeared on Extemp Central’s website last year was pieced into this topic area analysis.

As was done for the Catholic Forensic League (CFL) national tournament, Extemp Central provides you with this topic area analysis for the United States extemp portion of next week’s NFL national tournament in Birmingham, Alabama.  While it appears this year that there will be a stronger overall pool of talent in International extemp, conforming to the normal pattern of the last decade that does not mean that International extemp is the harder tournament to navigate.

When people ask me which area of extemp I think is harder to win at NFL, I always answer United States extemp.  My decision could be biased, as I did United States extemp all four years (although I regret never dabbling in International extemp), but I do believe that United States extemp has more variables tied into achieving a high level of performance than International extemp for two reasons.

First, it is very difficult to write thirteen rounds of questions about the United States.  Yes, we are a great country and many of the things that take place here establish policy that significantly alters the globe.  However, trying to come up with nearly thirty questions per round about issues only in the United States is very difficult.  This is compounded by a problem all extempers are familiar with at some local tournaments:  a lack of quality questions.  I remember senior year the first question I drew was “Why does the right hate public education?”  I also have encountered questions about whether prisoners should have to work, questions about timber companies, and questions about water problems in Utah.  All of these questions show that there is a depth to U.S. extemp that can get very nit picky and there might come a time in the tournament when an extemper is going to be forced to talk about an issue they may never have heard of or not have a lot of substantial material to support a speech in their file boxes.

Second, most judges are more familiar with topics found in U.S. extemp rounds than International extemp rounds.  If an informal poll was conducted at the national tournament, I would be willing to bet that there are more judges who know about the current Supreme Court nominee than about Britain’s expenses scandal.  This presents U.S. extempers with two issues.  The first issue is that judges are going to be somewhat aware of what you are talking about so it is harder for those extempers to “b.s.” their way through rounds (although that may work to many educated competitors advantage).  Another issue is that for some topics, such as abortion, affirmative action, etc. that are quite controversial, judges have biases that are tough to shake.  I remember drawing abortion, Title IX, and slave reparations in round ten of NFL my junior year and I am convinced that the bad topic draw I achieved in that round and the biases my judges were bound to have, was part of the reason why my cumulative score took a hit.

To assist extempers to navigating the tournament, this topic area analysis hopes to serve as a preview of what extempers can expect to see in each round and provide some practice questions so they can be ready for next week’s event.  Keep in mind, these are only predictions and opinions of the writers based on our prior experiences at the tournament.  We can be wrong, but I would like to say that most of our predictions about last year’s topics (and my prediction about the Health topic being the CFL semi-final or final topic area) were right.

2009 NFL (NSDA) Nationals International Extemp Topic Area Analysis

topicbriefBy Omar Qureshi

1: Western and Eastern Europe

This topic area is different than in years past. Generally Western Europe gets its own topic area, and Eastern Europe is more closely linked with the Russia topic area. I can’t say that I consider the way that it is formatted this year is a particularly good idea. In any case, this is truly a behemoth of a topic area. Regional sources such as The Times of London, The Guardian Unlimited, Der Spiegel, and the Scotsman are all helpful places to go.

It is very important to be attentive to national politics in countries throughout Europe. Great Britain, in particular is in the middle of a wild political storm. With the Member of Parliament spending scandal shaking up public opinion, it is important to look to analyze the specific impacts of the scandal on political parties and political will. Individual national political issues in Europe will be important to the more powerful countries in Western Europe- Germany, Italy, France, and Spain.

Despite how passé it is, it seems as though the national tournament tends to dwell on EU expansion. Here it is a good idea to cover up on the basics- whether or not the EU is at a point where expansion is a good idea. Similarly, be sure to address Eastern European countries like Ukraine and Georgia. These countries have strong movements for EU integration; however they are still facing problems with Russia as well as domestic political opposition.

The fourth of June will bring European and European Council elections. It seems likely that smaller parties will be more successful than in years past. These elections are also important because they give a preliminary indicator of how the EU is likely to mature over the next few years. Pay close attention to the economic agenda being pushed in these elections.

From the perspective of Eastern Europe, it is prudent to note the structures of power domestically. This means analyzing whether or not countries like Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Georgia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also, I think that the tournament will address the progress of Kosovo- domestically and internationally. Serbian nationalism, too, has been a major issue. Serbia is not doing very well economically. I am fairly certain that there will be a focus on the direction Serbia is going to progress in: whether it is economic progress or a continued level of fierce nationalism without political accomplish.

There is another large area that needs to be addressed when discussing Europe: Russia. However, I will address this in the Russia topic area analysis.

Practice Questions:

1. Will Brown’s code of conduct legislation salvage the tarnished image of the Labour Party?

2. Can the Saakashvili government avert chaos?

3. Is Turkey making progress towards EU integration?

4. What effect will the recent European elections have on regulatory banking legislation?

5. Can Bosnian Serbs retain autonomy?

On Developing Style

buzzBy: Sebastian Pyrek

Being a speaking event, extemp relies not only on substance but also on style. The process of becoming better at the event is an uphill struggle, with each step becoming more difficult to grasp than the previous, but yet there is something that many extempers will overlook or save for very end that could be developed earlier along with the other facets of the event: style. Observing the final rounds of the higher extemp championships demonstrates the varied styles that each speaker has, and these varied styles reach the final because they work well at uniquely setting the speaker apart in prelims and outrounds. But don’t let yourself think that completely emulating these styles will land you the championship spot at the state or national level. The point behind the event is about finding a way to place yourself into the information, and this is the way that developing a style should be viewed.

NSDA Roundtable

strategyThe NFL national tournament is where extemp legends are made.  With a format of thirteen rounds, two differentiated forms of extemp, three rounds of cross examination, a final round that takes place in front of hundreds of people, and $6,000 in scholarship money going to the winner, NFL is an experience unlike any other.

To provide a preview for this tournament, Extemp Central has brought together three national finalists to discuss their preparation for the tournament and the work that had to be done in the trenches to get them onto the national final stage.

NSDA National Tournament Psychology

strategyBy Omar Qureshi[1]

Nowhere will you find a bunch of 250 extempers more competitive than at the NFL National Tournament. There is not a competition that matches its size, depth, or prestige.

With emotions running high, there is no better piece of advice than to just relax. Regardless of how many people are there, the goal is still very much the same: to give the best extemp speech you can give every round. It is prudent to consider the tournament as something outside of you. It exists outside of your paper, pens, boxes, and the prep room. From the time you pick your topic to the time you give your speech, all that exists is the event. In that zone nothing else matters. It matters not how good the speeches were in your room. It matters only that yours is a dedicated reflection of your ability as an extemper.

Extemp Central National Points Race

by Logan Scisco

A PDF of the following article is available by clicking here.

The first year of the Extemp Central National Points Race has nearly concluded, with the International and United States extemp tournaments at the NFL National tournament in Birmingham, Alabama being the last tournament that has to be entered.  This year has featured a collection of various winners from the extemp community, with Stacey Chen of North Allegheny Senior High School emerging as the dominant #1 in the rankings, holding that position for much of the year.

Since the last edition of The Ex Files, there has been a small shakeup in the top of the standings.  The Extemp Tournament of Champions at Northwestern University featured many extempers in the national points race and added some clarity to the standings.  The Catholic Forensic League (CFL) national tournament in Albany, New York had less “star power”, but did boost the fortunes of many trying to shore up a good finish for the end of the season.

As the last tournament of the year, the NFL national tournament is essentially “glory’s last shot” for extempers looking to finish their careers with either a national championship or a national finalist finish.  It is the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work and preparation.  Yet only two extempers will leave Birmingham with the opportunity to call themselves a national champion and only one extemper at the end of the tournament will be able to proclaim themselves as the winner of the first ever Extemp Central National Points Race.

Extemp Questions for the Week of June 3rd-9th, 2009

1. Will recent fighting between Fatah and Hamas forces in the West questions Bank doom hopes for a unity government?
2. Twenty years later: Did Tiananmen Square fail to change China?
3. Will the government’s plan for GM prove fruitless?
4. Why is Belarus having a falling out with Russia?
5. What impact will the George Tiller shooting have on Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings?
6. Can the international community apply lessons learned from the war on drugs to the problem of Somali piracy?
7. Obama’s cyber security plan: sound policy or completely misguided?
8. Will Obama’s words concerning Iran’s nuclear program prompt Israel to attack Iran’s nuclear installations?
9. Is the U.S. economy headed for Zimbabwe style hyperinflation?
10. Are Mexican efforts to help street children an attempt to sweep the problem of poverty “under the rug”?

Topic Brief: North Korean Aggression (2009)

Early last month, North Korea angered the international community over its launch of a long range missile (Taepodong-2).  This launch went against UN Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from conducting ballistic missile tests, although North Korea’s government saw it as an attempted satellite launch, arguing that it had the right to explore space.  This launch was determined to be a failure, with the second and third stages of the rocket failing to separate as planned.  Despite this failure, North Korea appears to have gained international attention yet again, by conducting its second nuclear test.

Although scientists and intelligence communities of the United States, Japan, and South Korea are trying to determine if what North Korea detonated was a nuclear weapon or simply a mock nuclear explosion, which could be done with large quantities of explosives, it appears that North Korea has taken a much more aggressive stance with the international community over its nuclear program.  It seemed near the end of the Bush administration that North Korea would follow the path of Libya and give up its nuclear weapons program in return for international aid and more diplomatic recognition.  However, despite attempts by the Obama administration to extend an olive branch to the North Korean government of Kim Jong-Il, the North Korean government has dug in its heels and has now withdrawn from the 1953 armistice that stopped the fighting in the Korean War.

With North Korea’s aggression being a test of the Obama administration’s resolve on U.S. security and non-proliferation goals, and with it having the potential to ignite a dangerous arms race in East Asia, it is important that extempers read up and understand this issue for the NFL national tournament.  It does not matter if you do U.S. or International extemp, because each type will have rounds that will require extempers to analyze security trends and U.S. foreign policy.  As such, this brief will explain some of the motivations behind North Korea’s latest test, the response of the North Korea’s neighbors about the test, and what steps the U.S. can take (or lack thereof) to force North Korea’s hand.

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