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Georgetown Wins National Debate Tournament Championship

Andrew Arsht (C’14) and Andrew Markoff (SFS’14)Georgetown students Andrew Arsht (C'14), left, and Andrew Markoff (SFS'14) won the 2012 National Debate Tournament championship.

April 4, 2012 – Two Georgetown sophomores whose first names are Andrew captured the National Debate Tournament championship at Emory University April 3.

Andrew Arsht (C’14) of Park City, Utah, and Andrew Markoff (SFS’14) of New York City defeated a squad from Northwestern University with a 3-2 decision in the final debate, becoming the second sophomore tandem to win the tournament in its 66-year history.

“The victory is a testament to the hard work of our team,” says Jonathan Paul, director of debate for student programs at Georgetown. “These guys gave up pretty much every free moment over the past three months to prepare for this tournament and we are all elated that the hard work paid off.”

Debate Excellence

The American Forensic Association sponsors the National Debate Tournament (NDT) every year. The NDT and the Cross Examination Debate Association decide the main resolution to debate during the year as well as the topic of the final round’s debate.

This year the resolution dealt with whether the U.S. government should increase democratic assistance to Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen. The final round involved the role of security sector reform in Arab Spring transitions.

“It's hard to express how happy I am to bring a National Championship home to Georgetown,” Arsht says. “The Hoyas have a long history of debate excellence spanning multiple decades … a tradition I'm proud to be a part of in my own small way.”

No. 1 Andrews

This was Georgetown’s third National Debate Tournament Championship and the first since 1992.

“It was an honor to get to debate Northwestern in the final round,” Markoff says. “They are a model debate program and a class act as debaters, and it was great to see them at the end.”

Arsht and Markoff, who were ranked No. 1 in the country at one point during the debate season by national debate coaches, and previously won tournaments in the Henry Clay Debates at the University of Kentucky.

Grueling Competition

The final round of the tournament, which started at 11 p.m. and lasted until 2 a.m., represented only a microcosm of the competition, according to Paul.

“It is hard for outsiders to comprehend just how physically and mentally grueling it is to compete at the National Debate Tournament,” he says.

Paul notes that Arsht and Markoff also had to wake up at 6 a.m. during the first three days of the tournament, which ended at 9 p.m.

“By the final round, everyone is exhausted and sleep-deprived and just grasping for that last ounce of energy,” the coach explained.

Ultimate Team Effort

Arsht and Markoff thanked their teammates – including Richard Day (SFS’14) and Tyler Engler (SFS’15) – for the hard work they put in during the season, including scouting opponents during the National Debate Tournament for a 24-hour period.

“The best part for me wasn't just finding out we had won,” Markoff says.  “It was seeing all of them afterwards, and recognizing that it was, and always has been, the ultimate team effort.”