Dropping arguments has always been considered a taboo in debate. Your opponent stands up and approaches the lectern, sweating heavily. “But Judge”, he spits, “they dropped arguments 1, 2, and 3 a, b, c, and d! These arguments flow affirmative because silence is consent!”
Unfortunately for Mr. Sweaty Debater, dropping arguments is not bad 100% of the time.
The tactical drop
Okay, Mr. Potent Speaking.
Show me your evidence.
When you’re negative, don’t you get to decide which arguments to bring up? You can run three Inherency arguments and two DA’s, or just one argument if you want.
And, at any point, you can choose to abandon ship on those arguments.
If your DA is suddenly irrelevant, you can drop it. Unlike the Affirmative team, there aren’t always consequences to dropping an argument. The most the other team can say is, “They dropped this DA, so it won’t happen”.
That’s not a big deal, because if you dropped it purposefully, it’s probably because it was a lame DA anyway.
See where I’m going with this? Technically, if an argument is bad and the judge doesn’t buy it, there’s not much of a downside to dropping it.
– You stop alienating the judge, who probably didn’t like your argument.
– You save time so you can talk about your other arguments more.
– You look smarter because you are not longer running bad arguments.
– You seem more trustworthy. You’re showing that you are willing to admit when an argument is not good.
– The other team could twist words to make it look bad. “The negative team dropped that argument!”
– The judge might think it’s bad for you to drop arguments.
– If done incorrectly, you might get rid of a good argument.
Okay Mr. Potent Speaking.
Why would I do it if all these bad things can happen!?
Negative effect 1 and 2 can be counteracted in the way you drop the argument.
1. Do not, I repeat do not, drop an argument without telling the judge.
If you drop it “silently”, the other team will notice and bring it up, and it’ll look like you forgot.
Instead, tell the judge exactly what you’re doing.
2. Do not call it “dropping” an argument.
That lingo is heavily tied to the negative connotation of dropping an argument, so it’s better to use another word.
You can say something like, “Before we move on, I’d like to mention that we agree with the Affirmative team on their response to [argument], so we’re going to move on from it and spend more time on the real problems with the Affirmative case.”
See what I mean? Now the other team can’t claim you dropped the argument and that’s bad, because you straight up told the judge. The judge won’t think it’s bad because you explained what you’re doing.
Furthermore, you now look extremely reasonable. A team that’s willing to drop a bad argument and admit they’re wrong? It’s refreshing.
Negative effect 3 can be avoided by being careful about which arguments you drop.
3. Be careful about dropping
Don’t drop an argument without very carefully thinking of several variables.
- Is the other team destroying the argument, making you look bad?
- Is the judge unresponsive when you run that argument, while nodding at other ones?
- Could you use some extra time for other arguments?
- How well does the argument work with your overall strategy?
4. Make sure to impact your remaining arguments
When you drop an argument, it’s important not to look defeated. The last thing you want is for the judge to think that you’re losing and dropping arguments because you can’t win them.
To counteract this, keep your confidence.
Second, impact your remaining arguments and make statements like, “These two arguments alone defeat any merit that the Affirmative team’s case has.”
The bottom line
As long as you stay strong and use the rest of your arguments to good effect, the judge won’t see the dropped argument as a bad thing.
In fact, they’ll appreciate your honesty and reasonableness.
Think about it like this. If you show that you’re a team that will stop running arguments that are bad, then the judge will see the rest of your arguments differently. “Well, if they drop bad arguments, that must mean these arguments are good!”
Don’t be obstinate. If your argument sucks, get rid of it.
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