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When I debated as a novice, I remember thinking that lay judges were “illegit,” and whenever I was dropped by a lay judge, I could just brush it off as bad judging. I’d just make myself believe that if someone who actually understood debate judged me, they would pick me up, because come on, obviously I was the best. The worst part was that this vicious cycle was reaffirmed by many of the people I talked to; I could tell another debater that I was dropped by an “illegit” lay judge, and they would just nod, agree and sympathize. These days, when I walk down the hall of a tournament and hear kids bashing lay judges, it makes me irrationally angry and annoyed. My mentality has changed drastically due to experience and observation, and I’ve come to appreciate the unique role that lay judges play in debate. My partner, Jeremy Andreades, explained our change best in last year of debate, remarking that we debated “flow” so rarely that it started to feel out of character, and as a result, our performance improved markedly. Continue reading...