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2022 NDT Arguments with Cross-Application Potential to High School

Author: Carly Watson

Last year I put together a blog with NDT arguments that might make the leap into end-of-season high school tournaments. While this year’s college antitrust topic might feel a lot different from the water topic, there are a few things with crossover potential. Many people are involved in both college and high school debate who might borrow, recycle, or upcycle an argument for the high school tournaments coming up. Here are a few of the arguments from the NDT that could make an appearance.

Generic Counterplans

Over the last few years (maybe more?), there’s been a resurgence in generic and process counterplans. Some have blamed the topics’ lack of generic disadvantage ground and some have blamed conditionality. Whatever the reason, there were several generic counterplans read at the NDT that could come up again.

Abolish Counterplan – This counterplan was originally read by Michigan PR round 6 of the NDT and made a few appearances in elimination rounds from them as well. The counterplan they read “abolished antitrust,” had several advantage counterplan planks to solve the affirmative’s advantages through non-antitrust actions, and then had an internal net benefit about why antitrust enforcement, in general, was bad. In some ways the internal net benefit sort of linked to the affirmative (the affirmative did increase antitrust prohibitions) but it needed the uniqueness component of the counterplan to work.

It’s an interesting take on the Offsets Counterplan (also having something of a *moment* in college debate) that raises several foundational competition questions. You could see a similar counterplan popping up in high school on the water topic or really on any future topic. In high school, the counterplan would abolish or end protection of water resources and then read any disadvantage about the topic even if it didn’t strictly link to that affirmative. If I were a coach preparing affirmatives of the end-of-season tournaments in high school, I’d beef up blocks on Offsets Counterplans and the Abolish Counterplan.

Sustainability Counterplan – Very reminiscent of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Counterplan, the Sustainability Counterplan (read by Emory GK Round 5 of the NDT), only does the plan if it passes a “sustainability assessment.” The internal net benefit they read was specific(ish) to antitrust but I could see this arising on other topics with a slightly different evidence set for the net benefit.

Enforcer Firms Counterplan – Similar counterplans (e.g. self-regulation) have been read in high school and college this year but the Enforcer Firms Counterplan was new. MSU read this counterplan round 7 of the NDT and it has the USFG empower enforcer-firms in the sector to monitor the practices that the plan prohibits. There’s an internal net benefit about water protection so that would probably look different in a high school round but counterplan itself has some cross-application potential.

Court Compulsion Counterplan – Michigan PR broke a Court Compulsion Counterplan round 6 of the NDT. The counterplan has the federal judiciary compel the executive branch to do the plan. It has an internal net benefit about how the counterplan narrows the political question doctrine (PQD) and that being good to set norms on drone warfare. On the high school topic, the judiciary could force the executive to do the plan and use the same internal net benefit.

Remand Counterplan – It wasn’t technically read at the NDT but Michigan read a counterplan in the semifinals of Texas to remand the plan based on “reliance interests.” There was an internal net benefit about “de novo rulings” (fancy sua sponte) and an external disadvantage about reliance interests in environmental regulation. Several teams at the NDT subsequently read this combination of arguments. It would mostly have applicability against affirmatives that use the judiciary but there are still some courts affirmatives floating around on the high school topic and more might be broken.


The most popular agenda disadvantage, by far, was about the conference committee meetings over the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) and the House’s America COMPETES Act. SamfordUTD, and Georgetown (to name a few) read it with impacts about semiconductors, manufacturing, and competition with China. In addition, there were confirmation disadvantages about Gigi Sohn for the FCC, Alvaro Bedoya for the FTC, and Ketanji Brown Jackson for the Supreme Court. KBJ was confirmed last week and who knows where Sohn and Bedoya will be in a few weeks but these might pop up at future tournaments. Northwestern and Wyoming read disadvantages about the Iran deal that are almost certain to stick around for a while – it was an incredibly popular disadvantage the first time around. There were also a smattering of teams still trying to make a disadvantage happen about smaller components of Build Back Better (e.g. warming and drug prices).

In addition to disadvantages about the agenda, the midterms disadvantage is officially back. Minnesota has been reading a midterms disadvantage about Democratic majorities being bad most of the year. Several other teams had started reading “Dems bad” midterms disadvantages by the end of the year. Most teams either read an impact about the filibuster being good (the argument is that the Democrats would end it and that’s bad) or foreign policy resolve (Republicans are better for military/deterrence/foreign policy goals). MSU broke the opposite disadvantage – Democratic majorities are good – round 3 of the NDT.

Other Themes

Sometimes it’s not specific arguments that make the jump to high school but argument themes that cross over. This year in college debate there’s been a surprising amount of court clog (including a state court clog disadvantage read by Cal-Berkeley round 5 of the NDT), unions (a unions good disadvantage from Wyoming at ADA and a unions bad disadvantage from Michigan at Texas) and blockchain. There’s also been many debates over ways to stop practices (torts, contract law, injunction, code of conduct, industry self-regulation, taxation, etc.). It’s unclear how many of those would be competitive on the high school topic but they could always appear as affirmative mechanisms as well.

Concluding Thoughts

The Spartan Debate Institute (SDI) did a webinar last year with some high school students and SDI instructors about end of season prep. It was specific to the CJR topic but lots of the advice would be helpful as you prepare this year as well. These are just some things from late in the college season that might apply on the water topic so it’s not meant to be exhaustive. A big part of preparing for end-of-season high school tournaments is dealing with the influx of college folks and college arguments so hopefully this helps. Good luck to everyone preparing for the end of the season!

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