Dear District Leader,
After months of careful consideration, we have made the decision to host the 2021 National Speech & Debate Tournament online for middle school and high school students due to the ongoing pandemic. Because this news impacts district tournaments held starting January 15, we are sharing this with you as District Leaders today. We will share the announcement with all coaches on January 11.

Every day bears out the importance of teaching speech and debate at our schools. Our mission remains the same: to connect, support, and inspire a diverse community committed to empowering students through speech and debate. The National Tournament offers students an unparalleled platform to share their stories and speak up on the issues they care about, and we're committed to giving students that opportunity through an online event. 

Key Dates for Middle School and High School
  • February 15: Tournament details and the tournament manual are released online.
  • March 1: Tournament registration opens, as it has in previous years.
  • May 1: Tournament registration closes.
We are working with local officials in Des Moines and Albuquerque on hosting the National Tournament in these cities in future years. In the meantime, we look forward to putting on a great event to spotlight the hard work of all of our students, coaches, and educators in June!  
Icon by ✦ Shmidt Sergey ✦ from the Noun Project.

District Leader Town Hall January 19

All district leaders are invited to a Town Hall on Tuesday, January 19, at 5:00 p.m. CT. Executive Director Scott Wunn will discuss the online National Tournament, share changes to district tournament qualification, and seek feedback from leaders about speech procedures for the online National Tournament. Mark your calendars! Information on how to access the Town Hall will be sent closer to the date. 
Before the Town Hall, take our Online 2021 National Tournament Straw Poll! We are committed to building a tournament infrastructure that provides an equitable, robust competition experience for students. As we consider how to conduct main speech and Duo Interpretation at the online 2021 National Tournament, your feedback is invaluable and will give us a great foundation for discussion at the January 19 Town Hall!
Take the 2021 Nationals Straw Poll

Changes to 2021 National Tournament Qualification

District Entry Requirements

We understand that your district’s team recruitment, online tournament scheduling, and participation numbers have been impacted this year. To help alleviate concerns over entry numbers and ensure your students can be represented at the National Tournament, the entry requirements for earning qualifiers to the online 2021 National Tournament have changed. Districts will stay at their current level for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
For 2020-2021 district tournaments ONLY, the following revised scale will apply:

Level 1 districts:
  • 4 entries = 2 qualifiers
  • 16 entries = 3 qualifiers
  • 32 entries and up = 4 entries
Level 2 districts:
  • 4 entries = 2 qualifiers
  • 10 entries = 3 qualifiers
  • 20 entries and up = 4 qualifiers 
Level 3 districts:
  • 4 entries = 2 qualifiers
  • 10 entries and up = 4 qualifiers
Expanded Access to National Tournament Supplemental Events
For the 2021 National Tournament only, the NSDA Board of Directors has decided to expand competition opportunities to more member students and schools by implementing the following change to supplemental events. Every member school that participates in the district tournament series will have the opportunity to enter up to two non-qualifying students in supplemental events at the online 2021 National Tournament. These students must have attended the district tournament but not earned qualification in any event. This applies to every school that participated in the district tournament, regardless of whether they qualified other students to the National Tournament, and it only applies to the 2021 National Tournament.
Board of Directors Minutes 
Read the minutes from the Board of Directors' December meeting here. Complete information and updates, including the requirement that district tournaments are held online in 2020-2021, can be found in the Unified Manual.
Thank you for your continued support of our efforts to provide speech and debate activities to students across the country. See you on January 19!
Student points to their name on an online Semifinalist posting Seated student covers mouth as they learn they've been named a national champion
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