Theron and Teague Harrison win second place, a trip to NY at city debate championship (VIDEO)
Theron and Teague Harrison, Manual High School's all-star brother-sister debate team and Westword cover siblings, are going to the Urban Debate National Championship in New York City next month. The pair snagged second place at the Denver Urban Debate League City Championship this past Saturday, losing in the finals to a razor-sharp team from Thomas Jefferson High, Danite Reda and Talan Lousignont. All four teens will compete in New York.
For more on the DUDL and debate, check out this week's feature, "Say What?"
Theron and Teague were on a winning streak until the final round, which took place in a spacious classroom at the University of Denver's Sturm College of Law as other debaters, coaches, parents, league donors and a panel of seven judges looked on.
The two teams flipped a coin to decide who would be affirmative and who would be negative. Theron and Teague debuted a tough new affirmative case at the tournament -- that the United States should pull troops out of Iraq because our invasion of the country was unjust and colonialist. But they drew negative in the coin toss. As such, they faced a similarly air-tight case from Danite and Talan -- that the U.S. should remove all private military contractors from Afghanistan and Iraq, because contractors are rogue mercenaries who don't respect the rights of civilians like U.S. soldiers do.
It was a heated debate, with both sides arguing passionately and articulately for their side. Theron and Teague offered a counter-plan to Danite and Talan's case -- that the U.S. should keep the contractors there but set up a fund to pay restitution to victims of violence. In the end, the judges voted for Danite and Talan.
But as DU law professor and DUDL co-founder Roberto Corrada said, "Nothing's really on the line here except for pride." At the last minute, the DUDL announced that it would be sending a pair of two-person teams to the national championship in New York instead of one -- meaning that both the first- and second-place teams would get to go. Theron and Teague easily won their semi-final round, earning them tickets.
Watch a video of Theron and Teague debating -- and of the big announcement about the trip to the nationals in New York. Flip the page to see a list of other award-winners.