In a significant milestone for both the East Coast circuit and high school parliamentary debate as a whole, the New York Parliamentary Debate League hosted its first official tournament at the Horace Mann School on October 29. New this year, the NYPDL is run entirely by students.

The result, however, was hardly new, with the invitational yielding yet another victory for Regis High School. The Regis pair of Jack Delaney & Aidan O’Gara triumphed in four rounds, finishing with a perfect record and topping the competition in speaker points. Dalton’s Oliver Effron & Will Bartlett placed second, and Regis’s Paul Castaybert & Matt Majsak finished as the third and final undefeated team.

Serving as a gateway to parli for many of the teams involved, elimination rounds were absent, and the league held a casual and instructive tone. “[Our goal is to] host monthly tournaments to further augment the growing desire for parli in the tri state area at the high school level” said league founder Rodda John, a student at Stuyvesant High School.

When it comes to running tab, John is no rookie. Having worked in multiple tabrooms prior to starting the New York Parliamentary Debate League, John made the call to hand-tab this tournament. “Tab went very well, all considering. We hand-tabbed the tournament, as we were in communication with Tabroom about getting the league configured from [their] end,” John said.

On the student-run aspect of the tournament, John said, “[A]ny student-run league is inherently going to be more connected with the debaters.  This allows us to better serve precisely the type of debating they want as well as [to] understand what they would like for us to be doing better -- as that is critical to the successful operation of a league.”

John’s vision for the league is to expand parli in the East Coast and eventually host one tournament per month. As with any student-run venture, administrative obstacles lie in the way. Securing judges, either parent or student, and finding monthly locations are two of the major hurdles that the New York debaters have to cross to successfully establish their league. But if the seventy-six competitors and dozens of student-judges are any indication, the desire for parli competition is alive and well in the tri-state area-- making a competitive league not only a distinct possibility, but a necessity.


Our East Coast correspondent is Paul Kim, who debates for Ridgefield High School.