By: Jodie Goodman, Swarthmore College 2016
Some tournaments, like American University Pro-Ams, are called straight-linked tournaments. At the beginning of each round, one or more topics will be presented to everyone for the first time. You then have 15 minutes to prepare either a PMC or an LOC. If your team is Gov’ing, there are several strategies for working with your partner to write your case quickly, and the strategy you pick depends on the dynamic you have with your partner.
Regardless, the first thing you have to do is assess the topic. Decide whether there has to be any clarification or any additional caveats. A caveat is a limitation on the debate. Gov teams use caveats to frame the debate, basically to make sure they have the debate they want to have. For example, a team might caveat policy implementation so that the debate focuses on the initiative and not the current political climate in Congress. Some tournaments allow caveats for straight-linked topics and some don’t, so be sure to read tournament packet to understand rules before the first round.
If one partner has significantly more knowledge on topic or experience in debate, spend 1-2 minutes brain storming all possible arguments you can come up with. Then, the less experienced person should read off their list. The more experienced person will choose arguments and present them to their partner in their most nuanced form. This works best when less experienced person is going to be the Prime Minister and lots of information transfer has to happen quickly.
If both partners are similarly experienced, you should start with 8 minutes of joint argument generation. Spend the remaining time organizing arguments into a coherent case and then going over additional warrants or examples to beef up the arguments.
If both partners are confident writing arguments out by themselves, you should spend 5 minutes brainstorming and 1 minute organizing which partner will write which contentions. Then, for 7 minutes, each partner writes their assigned contentions out. For the last two minutes, the MG should read their argument back to the PM and answer any questions the PM has about the contention they wrote.
If the prime minister can speak well about topics when they have a general idea of what they’re supposed to be saying without reading anything specific, you can spend 13 minutes dumping all of the arguments you can think of, then organize them quickly and go! The MG can spend this time predicting Opp arguments and working on rebuttals or predicting the collapse of the debate and anticipating weighing for the PMR.
The amount of independent work you do depends on how comfortable you feel writing cases on your own and what works best for you and your partner.