2020 Nationals Overview
Now an Online Tournament
After weeks of careful consideration, conversations with federal, state, and local authorities, as well as the local hosts, we are sad to announce that the National Speech & Debate Tournament will not be hosted in Albuquerque, NM this year due to health concerns from coronavirus (COVID-19). We’re disappointed to have to take this step, but the health and safety of our students, coaches, parents, and volunteers must come first. We are grateful to Trey Smith and the rest of the Albuquerque Local Host Committee for all of the hard work they’ve done to prepare for a tournament this summer, and we look forward to the opportunity to bring the event to Albuquerque in the near future.
During times of crisis, the National Tournament’s mission is even more essential. Speech and debate provides comfort and strength to students. The National Tournament’s platform allows students to share their stories and speak up on the issues they care about, and that platform cannot be abandoned. We remain dedicated to connecting, supporting, and inspiring a diverse community committed to empowering students through speech and debate. That mission leads us to the decision to elevate student voices this year through an online National Tournament.
We know the National Tournament is an important capstone experience to the speech and debate season for many coaches and competitors. Many of our high school seniors have seen their final chances to compete unexpectedly canceled. We understand how disappointed many seniors are, and finding closure for their high school speech and debate careers is very important to us. As such, we are also exploring the possibility of a Senior Open event, where all member seniors who have not qualified to the National Tournament could participate one last time.
We also will recognize our teacher and student members for all of their achievements this year. More information about these online celebrations, the online National Tournament, and the potential Senior Open event will be released in the coming days. Information on canceling existing hotel reservations and other logistics will be added to our website by the end of the week. We understand this is not the National Tournament you expected, but we’re excited to move forward and spotlight the hard work of our students and teachers this year.
2020 Nationals FAQ
When is the online tournament?
The plan is to use the same date footprint between June 14-20, 2020. The specific schedule is coming soon.
What is the online platform?
We plan to use a platform called classrooms.cloud that utilizes the Zoom system to give speech students (HI, DI, DUO, POI, Info, and Oratory) a limited timeframe to record their performances and upload them. One video will be used throughout the tournament. Debate students will complete their rounds through Zoom. We will offer everyone ample opportunity to learn the online system through webinars, examples, and other trainings, and through practice time in the software itself.
How will I learn to use the online platform?
We will ensure each qualified school has time to practice in the online platform. Additionally, we will release best practice guides, examples, and other trainings. We also encourage competitors, coaches, and judges to practice using Zoom, since that is the video software that will be used.
Will speeches be recorded or live?
Our current plan is that Extemp will be the only live speech event and all debate events, including Congressional Debate and Worlds Schools Debate will be live.
What about privacy issues?
How do we prevent cheating?
Maintaining our core values of equity, integrity, and respect and holding each student to the commitment they made in the Code of Honor is extremely important to us. The NSDA Board of Directors, Rules Committee, and a new Online Tournament Equity Committee will be working to ensure the standards for our competition remain in place.
Will the tournament include a Middle School division?
We are currently exploring the possibility of a Middle School National Tournament and will have more information in the coming week.
Will there be supplemental events?
We are currently exploring which supplemental events we will be able to offer and will have more information in the coming week.
What about kids who do not have access to video equipment, wifi, computers, etc.?
We are creating a committee to work on equity in terms of access. We are proactively looking for things we can try and solve before they even arise as a challenge. We will provide as many resources and strategies to make the tournament accessible as we can. More information is coming, but equity is one of our core values and we will make sure the tournament lives up to that.
What do we do about hotels?
We believe that our housing coordinators at Catch Des Moines will be able to make this a seamless process by cancelling all current reservations for coaches. Confirmation on this will be coming soon. Since we are ahead of the April 22 deadline, no one should have been charged a deposit. If your school made their own reservation outside the hotel block, you’ll need to handle that between your school and the hotel.
How does judging work?
We had already made changes to the National Tournament judging structure that we are planning to keep and work well for an online tournament. Instead of entry numbers being used to determine a number of rounds owed, entry numbers will be used to determine a number of days owed. Read more.
What deadlines have changed?
National Tournament registration for all entries has been moved to May 15. That includes forms, payment, etc. The deadline to submit Congress legislation is now April 15. All other deadlines remain the same. We will aim to have the legislation packet published by May 15.
What fees have changed?
Previously entry fees were $100 per student with a $25 discount if you stayed within the hotel block. We will give everyone that discount, so the main event registration fee will be $75 per student.
Have we communicated with state associations to make sure they approve of the online tournament?
We’ve communicated directly with the National Federation of State High School Associations. Here is their official response: “The speech and debate community has witnessed an unprecedented change due to the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. The NFHS continues to support the efforts of the NSDA to provide high quality competition to the students involved in these activities. With these uncertain times, new formats may need to emerge and we will continue to work with the NSDA to create opportunities for students to participate in the moment of crisis.”
What if our school/district/state has rules against online tournaments?
Contact the National Office by emailing email@example.com or calling us at (920) 748-6206. We will do everything we can to try and support you to get permission for your team.
How will Duo work?
National qualifiers in Duo and those already qualified through traditional means will have the opportunity to enter any main solo speech event in the regular tournament, if it is determined that social distancing restrictions will not allow for the recording of Duo performances and the event of Duo must be cancelled. Additionally, if a school determines that a qualified Duo cannot or should not record its performance due to school, local, or state social distancing restrictions, those students will be allowed to enter any main solo event. We are targeting May 10th, approximately one month prior to the event, as the final determination date for any potential cancellation of Duo.
How will other partner events work?
The system will allow for partners to be in separate locations if necessary. We will release best practices for evidence sharing and examples of ways for those students to communicate during prep time soon.
How will Congress work?
You can expect chambers to be smaller. This platform is being tested to run live Congress events in the coming weeks and more details will be coming after those tests.
How will Extemp work?
Extemp will be live. The prep room setup and live speech platform is being tested in the coming weeks. Extemp should run like a normal tournament, but we will have more details after those tests.
How will internet rules change?
The Rules Committee is working to adjust the rules regarding internet use. We know that people are going to be using the internet, this is an online tournament.
Any specifics on the senior event?
We’re in the very early stages of exploring the Senior Open, but if the board accepts a proposal to move forward, we plan to have both speech and debate options. If Senior Open is held, only seniors will be allowed to participate.
Will other Nationals events happen? (Coach caucuses, wording committees, etc.)
We are planning to have these committees meet. We will work with them to find the best time. We expect the online tournament to require a lot of attention from coaches, so they may meet before or after the tournament.
What about the Diamond Ceremony, Awards, Postings, etc?
We are planning some very exciting livestreams to celebrate these huge Nationals moments!
How will Four Time Qualifier Awards work?
For students whose fourth National Tournament is this year, we will still mail them awards. Participation in the online tournament this year also counts toward future Four Time Qualifier Awards.
Can we auto-qual underclassmen to Nats next year?
This is not currently part of the plan for the National Tournament. However, the NSDA Board of Directors will be evaluating this and similar ideas in the coming weeks.
Will the National Tournament go back to Albuquerque at some point?
We hope so! We’ve talked with the local host committee and city officials and are excited to return to Albuquerque as soon as we can.
Can we buy t-shirts?
Yes! The NSDA Store will still have all kinds of Nats swag. You can also buy them through your registration on Tabroom. If you can put your order together as a school, shipping will be free.
Will District Ads/the Tournament Book still exist?
Online tournament, online tournament book! We will still be highlighting districts and putting this in a format that you could get printed if you want the souvenir.
What if my district prohibits the use of Zoom?
We’re actively exploring alternative options and workarounds for people that may not be able to use Zoom. We will do our best to accommodate these issues in some form and will continue to strive to eliminate as many barriers as possible to participation in Nationals
Is your team hoping to qualify for the National Tournament this year? With EdCo, our fundraising partner, you can easily set up an online fundraising page for your team and receive support in the fundraising process. EdCo empowers students and teachers to raise money from family, friends, and other members of their community. Be sure to visit EdCo’s website or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Future Host Sites
2020 | Online Tournament (formerly Albuquerque, New Mexico) – June 14-20
2021 | Des Moines, Iowa – June 13-18
2022 | Louisville, Kentucky – June 12-17
2023 | Phoenix, Arizona – June 11-16