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>Setting Goals

By Pat J. Sikora

Is it worth going to a qualifier if you have little chance of qualifying? Is it worth it for parents to spend the time and money to allow their students to participate in these two day events? The answer to that question depends a lot on the goals you have set for yourself or your student. You haven't set any? Well, it's never too late!

The reality is that fewer California debate teams will qualify this year than did last year, and there are probably twice as many teams competing. So is it worth it? If your only goal is to qualify for Nationals, the bar has been raised a lot. It's not impossible, but it's tougher than in the previous years. But there are many other reasons for continuing to give your best and to stay in the game. Be sure that your goals are realistic and are not based solely on winning a title. Consider:

  • Debate teaches more life skills than any activity I'm aware of. Parents, consider the skills you use as an adult. Students, consider the skills you will need as an adult. Many of them can be learned through the exercise of debate in a safe, non-threatening way. Academic skills, job skills, family skills, ministry skills-all can be learned through debate. Make a list-mine already has over 60 life skills on it. If you can perfect a few of those skills by participating in a few more tournaments, why not?
  • Three important life skills that each team must develop are the values of faithfulness, persistence, and follow-through. Did you make a commitment to a partner? To yourself? Then do not grow weary in well-doing just because you haven't won a round all season. Continue. If you quit or slack off because you think you don't have a chance, you will regret it. You'll never know what you could have accomplished.
  • God may have a surprise for you. Last year He surprised many of us. Several teams qualified that didn't expect to, including my son and his partner of one week after both of them had faced incredibly an frustrating season. The experience of going to Nationals was God's gift them, and what they learned about themselves in the process was priceless-not to mention what we as parents learned!

Don't tie God's hands by quitting too soon.