ESU is host for debate tournament

November 8, 2011

The 56th annual George R.R. Pflaum debate tournament was held on ESU’s campus Oct. 21 through 23. Nearly 200 participants from around the country converged to debate this year’s topic on democracy assistance in Arab Spring nations. The Pflaum represents one of the oldest and most reputable regional tournaments in the country.

The tournament continued its tradition of competitiveness attracting some of the best teams from around the region. Highly ranked teams from the University of Oklahoma, University of Kansas, Kansas State and University of Texas San Antonio were particular were perennial contenders to win this year’s tournament.

Traveling from further away were new teams from Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.), George Washington (Washington D.C.) and the University of the District of Columbia Community College.

Though the Emporia State’s debate team has competed at its own tournament in the past, the squad did not compete in this year’s tournament because the burgeoning numbers necessitated every available debater’s assistance in running the tournament.

“We truly enjoy hosting the Pflaum debates every fall,” said Samuel Maurer, Director of Debate at ESU. “It really gives us a chance to act as ambassadors to reputable professors and students from other universities and really publicize the university.”

The Pflaum is the only tournament in the country that employs the “challenge matching” system for pairing elimination rounds. Instead of seed-order pre-determining match-ups, higher seeds are allowed to call out lower seeds to debate.

“The system adds a lot of excitement to our event,” said Maurer. “There is a competitive tension associated with it that is just not the same anywhere else. Most people are more scared of public speaking than death — adding the element of a challenge in a room full of 200 people just raises the stakes and rattles the thin-skinned.”

The tournament concluded on Sunday in the classrooms of Visser Hall. In an impressive display of debate prowess, the University of Oklahoma swept both the open and junior varsity divisions of the tournament.

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