When you hear a congressman denouncing a policy he advocated six months earlier, what you're probably listening to is the product of a college debate society, whose young Turks learn to argue either side of a proposition in pursuit of victory. But these days even listening to college debaters is a challenge, because for the last 30 years or so, the discipline has been trending toward more content and faster delivery, to the point where debaters talk a mile a minute, gasping for air between sentences. Debra Tolchinsky, a faculty member of Northwestern University's School of Communications, spent the 2005-'06 school year following NU's formidable debate team and their lionized coach, Scott Deatherage (who died suddenly in 2010). Her video documents the students' intelligence, drive, and incredible work ethic, yet in the end it's pretty depressing: there's plenty of strategizing on view, but the ideas themselves are mostly omitted because they're irrelevant. Nothing matters to these people but winning.
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Local heros strut their stuff at Music Box