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NFL/IDEA Rules for Individual Events

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Rules for Individual Events

Public Forum Debate Rules

  • Question: Specific topics for district tournaments held during certain months and the National Tournament topic will be published online at NFLonline. Public Forum Debate focuses on advocacy of a position derived from the issues presented in the resolution, not a prescribed set of burdens.
  • Entries: Each school may enter one, two, and possible a third or four teams of two students; each (potentially) debating both sides of the question and advancing on its own record. No substitution is permitted once the tournament has begun.
  • Debate Registration
    • As schools arrive, the coaches are to draw their team numbers. Numbers are not to be assigned in the order of school arrival. Number identities are not to be publicized.
    • The number drawn is to be recorded on the registration card as the drawing takes place.
    • To minimize schools scouting their opponents schedules should be released 10 minutes before each round.
  • Elimination - A team will be eliminated as soon as it loses two debates (or loses the final round in a district which qualifies one team to nationals), unless an extra debate between twice defeated teams is required by pairing rule ??. ?? on ??. The International District Committee may request permission from the IDEA Office to implement single elimination when 8 or fewer teams remain.
  • Procedure: Prior to EVERY round and in the presence of the judge(s), a coin is tossed by one team and called by the other team. The team that wins the flip may choose one of two options: EITHER the SIDE of the topic they wish to defend (pro or con) OR the SPEAKING POSITION they wish to have (begin the debate or end the debate). The remaining option (SIDE OR SPEAKING POSITION) is the choice of the team that loses the flip. Once speaking positions and sides have been determined, the debate can begin. Each speaker shall have four minutes for constructive argument, alternating between pro and con. (Please keep in mind that the debate may begin with a con speech.) Following the first two constructive speeches, the two debaters who have just given speeches will stand and participate in a three-minute "crossfire". At the end of the first "crossfire", the four-minute constructive arguments are continued by the students yet to speak. At the conclusion of the last two constructive arguments, another three-minute "crossfire" takes place between the two debaters who just spoke using the crossfire procedure discussed above. Following the four constructive speeches and two "crossfire" segments, the 1st speakers for each team will each give a 2-minute summary continuing established alternation. The summary speeches should include the arguments his or her team is winning and refuting of arguments it is losing. At the conclusion of the summary speeches, all four debaters will remain seated and participate in a three-minute "Grand Crossfire" in which all four debaters are allowed to cross-examine one another. The first question must be asked by the speaker who gave the first summary speech. At the conclusion of the "Grand Crossfire", the second speakers will each give a 1-minute "Final Focus" speech. The "Final Focus" is a persuasive final restatement of why a team has won the debate.


Public Forum Debate Timing Schedule
Speaker Schedule Time
First Speaker - Team A 4 Minutes
First Speaker - Team B 4 Minutes
Crossfire 3 Minutes
Second Speaker - Team A 4 Minutes
Second Speaker - Team B 4 Minutes
Crossfire 3 Minutes
Summary - First Speaker - Team A 2 Minutes
Summary - First Speaker - Team B 2 Minutes
Grand Crossfire 3 Minutes
Final Focus - Second Speaker - Team A 1 Minute
Final Focus - Second Speaker - Team B 1 Minute
Prep Time (per team) 2 Minutes


  • Plans/Counterplans: In Public Forum Debate, a plan or counterplan is defined by the NFL as a formalized, comprehensive proposal for implementation. Neither the pro or con side is permitted to offer a plan or counterplan; rather, they should offer reasoning to support a position of advocacy. Debaters may offer generalized, practical solutions.
  • Prompting Philosophy: Oral prompting, except time signals, either by the speaker's colleague or by any other person while the debater has the floor, is discouraged though not prohibited and may be penalized by some judges. Debaters may, however, refer to their notes and materials and may consult with their teammate while they do not have the floor and during the Grand Crossfire.
  • Timing: Timekeepers are an option but not required. If no timekeeper is used, debaters may time for their partners or the judge may keep time. Prep time for each team is two minutes.
  • Reading case: A team may decide, when asked by the opponent team for a copy of their case, whether or not to provide it; if the team refuses they shall not be penalized in any way.
  • Oral Critiques: No debate ballot shall be turned in without a reason for decision. Oral commentary shall not be considered a substitute for the written ballot. The NFL strongly discourages judges from disclosing decisions in the preliminary round of NFL competition. Comments made by a judge (orally or written) should be constructive and professional.
  • Judges: The use of Community judges is strongly encouraged.


Evidence Rules - Public Forum Debate

  • Responsibilities of teams reading evidence
    • The team is responsible for the validity of all evidence they read in the debate.
    • Debaters should, at a minimum, orally deliver title of the source and the author’s name. Complete citations for each piece of evidence introduced in the round must be available in the round. Written citations must include name of the author, qualifications, complete title of source (E.G. title of book, not chapter; title of journal, not article), and complete date. Online sources must also include the title of the site, database, or access point, the date accessed, and the web address. The additional citation required for online sources must appear on all evidence, but is not required to be read.
    • Should two or more quotations be used from the same source, the author and title need be given orally only for the first piece of evidence from that source. In the subsequent oral citation, only the author’s name is required.
    • Either no internal ellipsis (Ellipses occur after the first word of the quotation and before the final word) may be used in evidence cited on a card, or ellipses may be shown on cards, if the original source or a xerox copy is present. The evidence may be read in abbreviated form, but the entirety of the evidence must be available in one of the two ways previously cited.
    • Personal letters or telegrams shall not be admissible as evidence.
  • Responsibilities of teams challenging evidence
    • Indictments or protests of the validity of evidence must be made on substantive grounds.
    • A challenger must have either the original source or a xeroxed copy of the source being cited, or
    • A challenger must demonstrate that reasonable search has not been able to locate the source -- Xeroxed copies of relevant pages in Books in Print, Readers Guide, P.A.I.S., etc.
  • Definitions of "Non-existent evidence or evidence which seriously distorts the intention of the original source"
    • "Serious Distortion" exists when the evidence itself contains added or deleted word(s) which do not clarify but in fact change the position of the author with respect to the issues in question.
    • "Non-existent evidence" means that
      • Reasonable search is unable to produce the original source and/or the team reading the evidence is unable to provide the original source or a Xerox copy of the relevant pages.
      • The evidence cited is not located in the original source cited. Typographical errors in citation will not automatically result in the evidence being labeled non-existent, if the team reading the evidence can produce the correct information.
  • Procedures for initiating and reviewing protest of evidence
    • Initiating and reviewing protests
      • Any official protest on the validity of evidence citing specific violations must be presented in writing to the International district chair, the school challenged, and the IDEA office no later than 7 days from the time of the conclusion of the final round.
      • The International District Committee shall rule on the protest within 7 days of its receipt.
    • Appeals
      • Appeals of the International District Committee's decision shall be made in writing within 5 days to the IDEA office. The IDEA office shall use whatever means necessary in making the final decision on the dispute.
  • Penalties
    • Evidence lacking specified citation and challenged by the opposition shall be disregarded by the judge unless said citation is proffered immediately in the subsequent speech. At the conclusion of a challenge related to the oral presentation of or in round availability of a citation, the judge is the sole determiner of the level of penalty in the round in relationship to the level of the violation, not to exceed a maximum penalty of a loss with zero points, as part of the judge’s decision making process.
    • If an evidence violation is presented where a debater is found to have committed a "serious distortion" or to have used “non-existent evidence,” at the conclusion of due process, the offending debater(s) may be disqualified from the tournament.
    • Depending on the severity, an offense MAY result in notification of said offense to their high school administration and chapter sponsor, loss of all district and/or IDEA points, including trophy and sweepstakes points for the offending student(s), and/or revocation of IDEA and NFL membership.
  • Tournament Adjustments
    • Under no circumstance shall a tournament or part of a tournament be re-run because of a violation of these rules.
    • In the case of a disqualification of a contestant, all previous ranks and decisions of other contestants stand and no revision of past round ranks will take place.


Extemporaneous Speaking Rules

  • Divisions: The will be no division at the International District Tournament. Topics will cover the domestic affairs of nations other than the United States foreign countries and the foreign affairs of all countries, including the United States.
  • Entry: At the NFL National Tournament, International students will compete in the International Division of Extemp.
  • Topics: The International district chair shall obtain a list of topics phrased for contest use and based on subjects discussed in standard periodicals during the current school year. Each topic must be in the form of a question. The contents of the list shall not be disclosed except as contestants draw topics.
  • Drawing: Thirty minutes before the contest is to begin, the first speaker shall draw three topics, choose one, and return the other two. The other contestants shall draw in like manner, in the order of speaking, at intervals of seven minutes. The entire list of subjects shall be used for the drawing by each section. A contestant drawing a topic on which s/he has spoken previously in the tournament shall return it and draw again.
  • Preparation: As soon as a topic is chosen, the contestant shall withdraw and prepare a speech without consultation and without references to prepared notes. Students may consult published books, magazines, newspapers and journals or articles there from, provided:
    • They are originals or Xeroxed copies of the originals.
    • That original article or copy is intact and uncut.
    • There is no written material on that original or copy.
    • Topical index without annotation may be present.
    • No other material shall be allowed in the extemp prep room other than stated above. Extemp speeches, handbooks, briefs and outlines shall be barred from the extemp prep room. Underlining or highlighting in extemp will be allowed if done in only one color on each article or copy. No electrical retrieval device may be used.
    • Copies of information from "on line" computer services may be used provided that they are in printed form. Electronically retrieved evidence used in any IDEA or NFL Extemp competition must conform to the citation standard of the Modern Language Association. [See National Tournament Manual Appendix - Page 5]
  • Notes: Contestants may make notes during the preparation time, but the use of notes, cards, briefs or other aids are prohibited during the speech.
    • Recuse: Contestants shall not leave the preparation area until dismissed by the Extemp Proctor. Consultation with any person other than the Extemp monitor between the time of drawing and time of speaking is prohibited.
  • Cross Examination: Each International District shall have the autonomy to determine whether cross examination will be used in the final round of extemporaneous speaking events at the district tournament. If cross examination is used, the district must use the national tournament final round format. The decision of the District Committee shall be final.


Original Oratory Rules

  • Contest: This contest shall comprise only memorized orations actually composed by the contestants and not used by them during a previous contest season. No visual aids are permitted.
  • Subject: Any appropriate subject may be used, but the orator must be truthful. Any non-factual reference, especially a personal one, must be so identified.
  • Length: Orations shall require not more than 10 minutes for delivery.
  • Quotation: Not more than 150 words of the oration may be direct quotation from any other speech or writing and such quotations shall be identified in a printed copy of the oration supplied prior to registration. Extensive paraphrasing from other sources is prohibited.
  • Script: The orator's script must be sent to the International district chair no later than two weeks prior to the district tournament. The script should identify the quoted materials, state the number of quoted words, and both the orator and the coach must attest by signature that the oration is the original work of the contestant.


Interpretation Rules

  • Divisions: Separate contests shall be conducted in Dramatic, Humorous, and Duo Interpretation, each presented as memorized selections and without the use of physical objects or costume. Presentation shall not exceed 10 minutes.
  • Selections: Selections used in these contests shall be cuttings from published, printed novels, short stories, plays or poetry. Recorded material (video tape, DVD's, audio tape, CD's or phonograph recordings) or material from the internet that is not published and printed is prohibited. Original material published in a high school publication such as a newspaper, literary magazine, or yearbook is prohibited. Monologues are acceptable in Dramatic and Humorous Interpretation. During the presentation the contestant/team must name the author and the book or magazine from which the cutting was made.
  • Adaptations: Adaptations may only be used for the purpose of transition. The gender stated by the author must be honored. However, a female contestant may play a male role, and a male contestant may play a female role.
  • Focus: In Dramatic and Humorous Interpretation, use of focal points and/or direct contact with the audience should be determined by the requirements of the literature being interpreted. In Duo Interpretation, focus may be direct during the introduction [the performers may look at each other] but must be indirect [off-stage] during the performance itself.
  • Source: A cutting must be a single work of literature: one short story or one play or one novel or one or more poems. The original published source (or if unavailable a microfilm or microfiche copy) of any selection used in Dramatic, Humorous, or Duo must be immediately available at the tournament as well as a complete script of the cutting used. A complete script of the cutting would include:
    • A photo copy of every page from which any line of the cutting is taken; pages are to be in the order in which they are performed.
    • All words used from the script should be highlighted.
    • Any word changes and/or additions must be indicated clearly in ink.
  • Caution: It shall be the affirmative duty of each coach and each student entered in NFL/IDEA Interpretation contests to determine absolutely that the cutting being performed meets NFL/IDEA rules.
  • Re-Use: A student may not use a cutting from a work of literature the student used in NFL/IDEA International Districtor NFL national competition in any previous contest year.
  • See Section 7.1 #Scripts for further detail.

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