‘When we get called for awards, everyone knows who we are’

Juniors qualify for debate team state championship


Bayport-Blue Point High School juniors George Rogers and Yuvraj Toor qualified for the Debate State Championship to take place on April 12 through the 14.

They earned this qualification on Jan. 20 and Feb. 10 when they placed fourth and fifth at the Long Island Forensic Association tournaments at Paul D. Schreiber High School and Sayville High School.

George and Yuvraj engage in public forum-style of debating, which features a two vs. two proposition debate where they must argue the affirmative and negative two times each.

Coaches John Limperatos and Sean Meade have been advisors for the debate team since 2019.

“We wish for our debaters to strengthen their ability/capacity to research, process complex information, and craft intelligent and compelling arguments in response to some of the most complicated issues of our time,” said Limperatos.

Characterizing the state competitors as “diligent, intelligent, and sophisticated,” Limperatos said what really defines their debating style is their “tenacity.”

“They are dedicated students and debaters who desire excellence. They have honed their skills by taking direction, working together, not being afraid to make mistakes, practicing, watching other skilled debaters, and by being reflective,” said Limperatos.

Among the challenging issues researched and debated by George and Yuvraj was the “Resolved: The United States federal government should repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act” debate.

Section 230 was enacted in 1996 when some lower courts in the United States were examining the ability of Internet service providers and other online providers to carry the speech of individuals without risking significant legal liability for the content of the speakers.

Enacting would make illegal user-generated content was posted to a forum, the forum organization could be held responsible despite not being involved in the creation of the content.

By enacting Section 230, Congress sought to address those liability concerns, and to ensure that individuals would be able to participate in the new and innovative Internet that became popular in the 1990s.  Section 230 declares that participants in the Internet ecosystem (whether service providers or individual people) will not be held liable for illegal content posted online by other people.

“This is a truly complicated issue that has many layers (both legal and political) to it and has significant implications to it, especially regarding the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Limperatos.

With empowerment as the goal for the debate team, students are expected pursue and attain knowledge where “they will find themselves becoming very skilled at processing, understanding, and using complex information to craft arguments,” said Limperatos.

“I wish everyone could observe students debate at these tournaments because it is not only impressive, but makes one reflect on these issues and potentially reconsider your own personal position,” said Limperatos.

According to George, the greatest benefit to being on the debate team has been the “increased ability to communicate and further my own opinions in a respectful setting is a significant benefit for me,” citing how even in interviews like with the Suffolk County News it was “easier for me to engage comfortably and speak convincingly.”

George also noted the added “friendly rivalry” between friends and students in other districts that the debate forum provided.

Yuvraj said, “Due to the nature of debate tournaments, requiring you to research and advocate both sides of an issue, these competitions allow you to gain a comprehensive understanding of wide-ranging affairs. You can often come out of a round, thinking vastly differently about a topic than before, which is one of the best parts of it.”

Characterizing BBP as a “small school and small team,” George said in competitions with larger schools it was common to hear, “Wait, where is Bayport?”

“But when we get called for awards, everyone knows who we are,” said George.
Yuvraj said that those unsure of joining the debate team ought to “give it a try,” and that, “improvement is rapid in this sport, so you can become an entirely different player after just a few weeks. However, intrigued as you may be by the idea of it, debate can serve as a wonderful environment to grow as a person.” 


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