National Speech & Debate Association District Tournaments are held each year to determine the qualifiers to the National Tournament in speech, debate, and congressional debate. Each district tournament is hosted by an Association District, which is made up of a set of schools in a given geographic region. This page is a simplified version of the District Tournament Operations Manual. For complete details on how to qualify, enter, and compete at a District Tournament, please refer to Section 3 of the High School Unified Manual.
District Tournament Forms
Use the following forms designed to assist you before, during, and after your district tournament:
District Tournament Timeline
Before the Tournament
All districts are required to use Tabroom.com, or SpeechWire software for collecting online registration, scheduling rounds, and tabulating results. To learn what software your district is using, go to Tabroom.com and search for the name of your district. Click “Go” next to this year’s district tournament. This page will share the dates, location, and software of your district tournament. Contact your district chair for help with registration.
Before your district tournament begins, make sure there is no outstanding balance on your NSDA account by logging in and clicking the “School Finances” button. If your district tournament is using SpeechWire, download the Single Entry Letters of Intent forms and have each of your double entered students and students interested in competing on your district’s World Schools Debate team complete the form. This form will be collected by your district chair. If your district uses Tabroom.com, you will complete this form digitally as part of the online registration process.
After the Tournament
After each portion of your district tournament is completed, NSDA points will be auto-posted to your account. Do not enter these points manually! Coaches in the district have seven (7) days to protest any results; otherwise, they will be considered final. National Tournament registration opens for qualifying coaches after your entire district tournament series has been completed. The earliest coaches may begin registration is March 1. Coaches with qualified students will receive an email when they are eligible to register for the tournament and if any alternate students have been moved into a qualifying position.
The number of entries a school is permitted to enter is based upon the number of active members and degrees on record with the national office as of 4 p.m. CST a minimum of seven days prior to the district contest beginning. Current school strength can be found on the School Profile page of the NSDA website. Please refer to the Unified Manual to determine how members and degrees are calculated.
Entry Limit per Event
Each school may enter up to four entries in each event. Congress uses a separate formula for entry limits. See the charts on the right for details. Big Questions does not have entry limits unless they are imposed by the District Committee.
Penalty for Excess Entry
The District Committee must not permit excess entry. If a school enters in excess of its allotment, it forfeits all coaching credit points and all sweepstakes points for the entire tournament as well as a penalty of ten trophy points. If the excess entries create additional qualifiers, the district may face penalties resulting in loss of qualifiers.
Any school that registers two entries in every category that actually compete (by participating in at least one round) in the district tournament will be permitted to register two additional entries in the tournament. However, not more than four entries are permitted in each event.
Speech/Debate Entry Allotment
|Members and Degrees||Speech, Lincoln-Douglas, Policy, and Public Forum Entries Allowed|
Congressional Debate Entry Allotment
|Members & Degrees||Senate Entries Allowed||House Entries Allowed|
National Qualification Standards
For additional information, please consult the current High School Unified Manual.
Minimum Schools Requirement: Any district that attained at least 12 charter chapters with paid membership, 20 chapters of any type with paid membership, 200 new members, or over 700 new degrees in the prior school year is allowed to hold a district qualifying tournament series. If a district does not meet this minimum requirement, it may not hold a tournament series unless it is on a pre-approved growth plan due to realignment or a district split. However, schools in the district may petition to attend a qualifying tournament in a contiguous district. Schools must attend the entire district tournament series (inclusive of debate, speech and Congress) in their own district.
Minimum Entries Requirement: If a particular speech or debate event has fewer than four entries, regardless of the district’s qualification level, no qualifiers are allowed in that event. An entry must participate in at least one round (or in the case of Congressional Debate, must give at least one speech) in order to count as an entry.
Minimum School Entry Requirement: In order to qualify entries in a speech or debate event to the National Tournament, a minimum of two schools must have entries that participate in the event. (See Congressional Debate Exception below.)
Congressional Debate Exception: Any district that meets minimum schools requirements may hold a District Congress, subject to the quotas for Congressional Debate: 8+ schools in the Senate = 2 qualifiers; see chart below for House quotas. The number of Senate and House qualifiers is independent of all other district tournament benchmark standards.
|Participating Representatives (House)||16-29||30-58||59-87||88-116||117-145||146+|
The number of national qualifiers allowed from each district depends on the district’s qualification level. For information on each level, see below.
Entries Required per Qualifier
|National Qualifying Level||2 Qualifiers||3 Qualifiers||4 Qualifiers|
|Level 1||At least 4 entries||16 entries||32 entries|
|Level 2||At least 4 entries||10 entries||20 entries|
|Level 3||At least 4 entries||N/A||10 entries|
Note: These are the revised entry requirements for the online 2021 National Tournament only.