Contemporary Reflections on Frank Lane’s 1915 Essay “Faculty Help in Intercollegiate Contests.”

Edward M Panetta


Abstract: In the first volume of the Quarterly Journal of Public Speaking Frank Lane addresses the issue of coaches producing arguments and evidence for debaters and competitive public speakers. There seems to have been a consensus in the academic ranks at the time that debate teams should have active coaches. However, early argumentation scholars disagreed over what limits, if any, should be imposed on the coach. At the beginning of the 20th century there was a concern that the lack of a definitive set of standards led to instructors intruding into debate in a way that could lead to unfair contests.                  

            In the early stages of the 21st century the increasing demands on policy debate coaches to produce evidence for students has profoundly negative implications on both the competitive balance in the modern community and on the ability of coaches to devote a full professional career to coaching policy debate. Frank Lane’s essay raises the issue of evidence production for students and its effect on competitive balance in debate.  A review of his work raises questions about the impact that coach produced evidence has on debate and the ways in which that practice undermines the pedagogical benefits of contest debating.  After reviewing the trends in evidence production by coaches, this essay calls for the elimination of the evidence loophole in the American Forensics Association code to return the research burden to forensics competitors.


            Key words: American Forensics Association, Coaching, Debate, Evidence, and Research.

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