Why Compete in Speech and Debate?

Famous Competitors

  • Mike Pence

    Oprah Winfrey

    Adam Sandler

    Roger Ebert

    Nelson Mandela

    Kelsey Grammer

    Karl Rove

    Richard Nixon

    Margaret Thatcher

    Malcolm X

    John Belushi

    Shelley Long

    Bruce Springsteen

    Michael Stipe

    Arsenio Hall

    James Dean

    Janet Reno

    Steve Buscemi

    William H. Macy

    Nancy Cartwright

    John Larroquette

    James Earl Jones

    Josh Gad

  • Speech and debate has over 7,000 Middle and High School students in the US that are members of the National Speech and Debate Association (NSDA). "Debate is the premier training ground for future leaders" (O’Donnell 1998). Many famous politicians, actors, lawyers and musicians have competed on their school’s speech and debate teams, see right for a brief list. Debate is also a form of empowerment which is especially important in middle school. participation teaches students that "they ought not be intimidated by the rhetoric of expertise" (Bauschard 2014) and gives them the confidence to advocate for themselves. Students who compete in speech and debate also have comparatively higher SAT scores after 2 years of competition. In the same study, it was found that competitors have a “statistically significant increase” in standardized reading comprehension scores and a “definite correlation between active participation in a highly-competitive interscholastic debate program and gains in student GPAs” (Barfield 1989). Debate is also preferred on college applications debaters "have a 22% to 30% higher acceptance rate at top tier colleges and being captain of the debate team improved an applicant’s chances by more than 60% compared with the rest of the pool" (Sharpe 1999). 

Last Modified on August 25, 2022