When it comes to reliving your former glory days, few things are as powerful as a letterman jacket. It is a symbol of your identity, of your involvement in something bigger than just taking classes for four year of high school. But what if you were not one of lucky few blessed with athleticism? What if you did something else entirely in high school? What if you were a debate kid?
I participated in the activity for four years of high school and then coached two different teams during my first two years of college. Debate was, and continues to be, one of the most important parts of me. I learned a tremendous amount through the activity — from public speaking to proper research, I was getting first hand experience at logical thinking and reasoning. I was prepared for adult life in a way that my other peers were not. I got to travel all over the country, competing at different prestigious institutions like Harvard, Yale, Emory and Columbia University. My old boss said you talk about debate a lot, and he was not wrong. With so much information floating around the internet, so many places reporting on the same thing, having a critical outlook is extremely important. And nothing prepares you to be critical like hearing an opponent spew lies in order to win a debate round.
There are clear signs that the person you are talking with has been exposed to debate club growing up, and I'm here to tell you all of them. Why? Because I want to save you the trouble of arguing with them. You will never win.
1. They Double Check All Of The Facts
You can tell them that they have to be at the train station at a certain time and they will triple, quadruple check that all the information given to them is correct. Years of almost missing debate rounds and forfeiting leave their mark.
2. They Are Very Careful With The Words They Choose To Say
Debaters have learned that everything they say can and will be used against them. If your partner or friend is really careful about what they say, it might be because they were in screaming matches with their partners after tournaments for saying the wrong thing.
3. They Twirl Pens When They're Bored
If you see a person twirling their pen this way, they are a debater.
4. They Can Get Out Of Tickets Like Nobody's Business
One time I got out of a very expensive ticket for doubling up on the turnstile in NYC. I used all of my debate skills to do it.
5. They Have Infinite Business Casual Clothes
So. Many. Blazers. You had to keep a well stocked closet it order to debate on the circuit. Most of us had to keep those way after we stopped debating.
6. They Know How To Tie A Tie
A debate kid knows how to tie a tie. Even I know how to, because my friends always needed help with theirs.
7. Their High School Friends Are All Lawyers Or Politicians
Because the application of skills you acquire in debate usually are applicable in very specific fields, a debater's friends are usually involved in politics, law or public speaking through acting or presentations.
8. They Keep Up With Every News Source Alive
You can try and bring up cool articles you stumbled upon online to these folks, but they already read that in the New Yorker three months ago. They have an actual physical subscription to The New York Times. They read The New York Times as a relaxer.
9. They Know How To Properly Cite Sources
You might not remember all the formats you needed to cite in a paper, but debaters do. They know how to slip in an author into any written document, and make it sound natural. Use their skills to your advantage.
10. They Can Tell You If A Scientific Source Is Reliable
While most of us go through life not caring where a study was published or it's pool of subjects, you can bet that a debater does. We never wanted to be caught using a bogus study, and having the best sources usually meant we had the best chance of winning a round.
John Oliver has the right idea!
11. They Have Trophies All Around Their House
Just like you would be able to tell if your friend played baseball, or field hockey, debaters have trophies all around their house. Just look out for that signature gavel.
12. They Are Your Go-To For College Tours
If your little sister needs help deciding where to go to college, your debater friend was the one giving the best advice. Because they've been to most major universities, they have a unique understanding of what makes for the best campus.
13. They Know Every Airline's Pros and Cons
We've traveled so much in our youth that we do not need online help choosing the best airline. We know where the most leg room, best freebies and snacks, and nicest plane crew is located.
14. They Have The Best Stories
From tales of judging horror to sitting next to a celebrity — debaters have some pretty amazing childhood stories.
15. They Get Excited For Jury Duty
Most people are not too excited by the thought of jury duty, but that's not the case with debaters! We love being part of a jury process because that's what we secretly wanted to do while we debated. Being part of the justice system is only cool to us debate nerds.
16. They Will Tell You About It
Obviously, the most common way that you will find out your friend is a debater is not by knowing all those previous points mentioned above. No. It's so much simpler than that. They will tell you they are. We like telling people we were debaters more than jury duty and all The New York Times subscriptions combined.
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