Video transcript
Stop rebutting yourself! – secondary debating – 3. Alex De Araujo

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[music playing]

TONY DAVEY: Hey, hey, Alex. How's it going?

ALEX DE ARAUJO: Hey, Tony. I'm well, thanks.

TONY DAVEY: Excellent, excellent. Staying safe, I'm sure. So, can you tell people who you are and what you're doing in debating at the moment?

ALEX DE ARAUJO: Yeah, I'd love to. So, my name's Alex. If I was debating, if I was coaching, I'd be coaching at Sydney Boys and Ascham College, among other schools. I work for a few places. And, I'd also be doing a lot of debating for uni at USyd, where I'm studying Commerce/Law in my second year.

TONY DAVEY: Fun times. So, today, what we're going to do is we're going to get you to watch one of your old speeches, from when you were in Year 10, I think, at something called the Junior State Debating Championships. So, that's where all the different regions of NSW pick their 4 best speakers, and send them to a tournament at the University of Sydney, at the Women's College there, and then, there's some debating over a couple of days. And finally, your team made it all the way to the final, and, in fact, won that state final. So, this is a video of your team from Sydney winning that final. I think the topic is that 'we should ban sports gambling?' I think that's right.

ALEX DE ARAUJO: Sports betting.

TONY DAVEY: Sports betting. 'That we should ban sports betting.' And, you're the second speaker of the affirmative. So, we're going to watch that together. Then, you're going to give your old self a little bit of feedback, so that you can keep improving, except you can't, because it's already happened. And then, of course, you're going to rebut yourself, so people can see what great, really organised rebuttal looks like. So, cool. You ready to get underway with that?


TONY DAVEY: Excellent. All right? Let's get into it. Here's Alex, the second speaker of the affirmative, to continue the debate. Whoo, yay.

ALEX DE ARAUJO: Ladies and gentlemen, what does the current sporting industry actually look like? It looks like halftime breaks, with 2 minutes of cheap rates and money back if your team loses, and $100 off guarantees, offering tangible incentives to gamble, which draw you in and make it seem like a very harmless move that you're taking. It's followed by a simple 'gamble responsibly' statement, which seems like a tacked on afterthought, which people don't listen to, people don't accept, because you're subconsciously taking in all the information you got earlier, about why you should gamble. It's a very, very small contrast.

It also looks like families raising their kids to back their team, over anything else. And, sport betting is seen as a tangible and meaningful way to support your team, because you're giving away the money that you've earned to support them. There's a link between this, which is portrayed by the sports. It looks like friends, all joining a sport tipping comp to place multis on their smartphones, which are easily accessible, which means that you can always access sports betting anywhere.

And, it means that this nature of sport betting pervades sport. It's so pervasive in sport, and the strong sporting culture, that you heard about from my first speaker, only exacerbates this. It only makes it worse. It only means that it's so easy, and portrayed as harmless and fun. All these incentives are portrayed as a fun, legitimate part of the sporting culture and a small, harmless risk. The problem is that all of these incentives still exist with regulation.

The problem is that, even without advertising, you still have the strong sporting culture. You still want to back your team. You still have your friends and your family talking about this to you, telling you to back your team, starting multis with you, starting footy tipping competitions with you. And, that's why regulation doesn't work. This is why a ban is necessary, to get rid of all the incentives. Because the legitimacy that legality provides to gambling, and sports betting, is the single biggest factor to why people bet.

We thought that when we got rid of that, there'd be a lot less sport betting. With all that, our model, which we told you at first would be implemented immediately, we could easily place this ban. We could easily place this, because we thought we were principally justified in doing so. Today I'll be bringing you one piece of substantive about how banning sport betting increases the integrity of the sport. But first, 3 issues in today's debate. Firstly, what is the extent of the harm of sport betting in state society.

Secondly, what will the effect on society be under our model? And thirdly, can we actually consent to the harms of gambling? So, on this first issue, what is the extent to the harms of gambling? We heard from first Neg, we heard that the side either wins or doesn't. There's only 2 options. Which means that most of the time there's only like a 50% chance of you losing, you're probably not going to lose that much money. But, because these 2 options are repeated so many times in gambling, because, as we told you, at first you're a lot more likely to lose, which is unrebutted by Neg.

We thought all of this means that, even though it's either a win or lose situation, most of the time you're going to lose, you're going to do it a lot, and so that's multiplied. You're going to lose a lot of money. Another thing we heard from first is that you can gain money through gambling, and that you're allowed to gain money through gambling. A lot of people do. Because all the material it gave you at first, about how you are likely to lose money, because it operates like a business, it's set up to make money. It wouldn't be able to operate unless it was slightly towards them in some way.

Also, because of the normalising culture means you don't know when enough is enough. You're constantly egged on to spend more. And, we didn't think that many people actually make money off gambling. We think that especially enough people make money off gambling to be an actual harm to our side of the debate. We also know that there are many reminders to gamble responsibly, such as like messages when you pick up your phone. But, we thought that this was such a small part of the market saturation.

As I told you in my intro, it's clearly like an afterthought. It's not the net subconscious thought that you're left with. You're left with, we should gamble, we should gamble, there are all of these deals. And, the fact that you're only told to like 'gamble responsibly' at the end of a 2 minute ad on why you should gamble, isn't effective. It's not effective. Like, it's an example of regulation which is very ineffective. No one's ever going to be stopped gambling by saying 'gamble responsibly.'

We didn't think that this was like a logical thing. We think that many people would be affected by this. Also, I'd like to point out that a lot of our first characterisation went unrebutted by first Neg, to the extent of the harms that gambling can provide. It can actually lead to terrible issues for your children. Like, it's so pervasive. So, this brings me to the second issue. What will the effect on society be if we ban sport betting?

We heard there are 2 types of people. There are excessive betters and there are casual betters. On to this issue of excessive betters. We heard from team Neg that they're going to go to worst forms of gambling. While we didn't think that this was the case, it was because there isn't the same sporting culture and emphasis on backing your team, and incentives surrounding other forms of gambling, like there are in sports betting. We thought these were 2 very separate like entities.

And, we thought that just because you're not allowed to sports bet, it means that all of the incentives that you had to sports bet in the first place, such as the advertising, such as the culture around backing your team, they don't exist for other forms of gambling such as, say, pokies. We didn't think - also there's a strong stigma around this high level of gambling society. It's seen as more harmful. So, we thought that the reason why sports betting actually leads to this gambling is because it blurs the line, and normalises this idea of giving away money for luck.

But, the reason why we didn't think that when you took that small form away people would go to the larger form is because, firstly, you're eliminating the gateway to these larger forms. And secondly, you're eliminating like the culture surrounding it, you're eliminating the advertising, and you're playing into the strong stigma against like problem gambling and higher forms of gambling. We thought because of this, you're probably not going to go from sport betting to other forms of gambling, if we ban sport betting.

We also heard about casual betters. We heard that the majority would be unhappy because we're taking away the fun of the sport. Firstly, we thought that the fun of the sport should like empirically be on the players in the game, rather than like the financial transactions. We think it's actually just better for the sport, but I'll expand on that later. We also thought that the problem is caused by these casual betters. We thought that these casual betters are the ones that we need to save from being caught up in the cycle.

Because of course, not every casual better is going to be turned into a worse and worse sports better. We thought that, because of all the reasons we gave you at first about how inherently pervasive the system is and why it leads to gambling, we thought that a significant amount of these casual betters are going to be turned into these excessive betters by the system. And, this is why we needed to take gambling advertising away from them. We needed to take gambling as a whole away from them.

We thought that, sure, they're the majority, but they're shifting. They're the ones that are betting more or more. So, we thought that that's a real problem. We didn't think that them being unhappy was enough of a right to justify taking away like the rights of all the people who are negatively affected by gambling. All the people who are negatively affected by their families going through terrible periods where one member of their family is spending all their money on gambling.

We thought that this was a huge incentive on our side of the debate. We thought that we had every right to do this, and this would have probably a positive effect on society. We also thought that like, by banning this, it kind of sets a precedent that you shouldn't be going to these other areas. So, that's another reason why other people aren't going to be going to other forms of gambling. Third issue, quickly, on can we consent to these harms.

We thought that children only start betting if their parents excessively bet. We didn't think that this was the case, but even if it was, even a small amount of normalisation, a small amount of someone who you trust, like your family, who you try to emulate, like your friends, that leads to greater and greater - it means you're more likely to gamble in the future. You're more likely to take that leap into making a next form of gambling.

We also thought it wasn't just the parents. It was all of their friends, and all the other people who were sport betting. We thought that that's why, like, people start betting. We also heard that betters know the harms of gambling, so they're aware and can consent. We didn't think this was the case, simply because of all the material we gave you first about the addictive nature of gambling, how it's normalised. You're not thinking logically and reasonably, because of your drive to win back the money you've lost, the addictive nature, the culture surrounding it.

They don't give you all the facts about gambling, that kind of thing. We didn't think that you were aware of the risks. So, we thought the government did have every right to step in. Just because you can only bet after 18 doesn't mean that, like, as you're growing up, the ratio of pro-betting in sport, to anti-betting, is huge. There is so much more emphasis on betting, especially when you're growing up in the sporting culture, watching sport.

So, we're not actually like - we thought that people could not consent to this. We thought that, as you're growing up, especially as a child, you're exposed to all of this pro-gambling. And so, that means that by the time you're 18, even though you're legally allowed to consent, we didn't think you were really consenting. We didn't think that you really weigh up the benefits in your head, because you've been given this skewed perception of it as you've grown up. So, that's why we thought you couldn't consent.

On to my piece of substantial about sports betting, and how it improves the integrity of the sport. Currently, the sport is about money, rather than the game. You're not appreciating the effort the athletes put in to get to that level, and it tars the sport with a brush of being intertwined with problems sport betting. This leads to match fixing scandals, such as at Manly NRL Club this year, and this leads to media attention, which presents the whole sport in a negative light, because bad news sells more than good skills.

Biggest sports players know that they want to impress fans with skill. They also know that lots of money is being placed on their performance. So, that's an added level of pressure to do well, to the point of not enjoyment of the sport, because you're more so playing for the benefit of others, not yourself. Even more so than without sport betting. This is quite bad for many sports people's mental state, because of this increased pressure over extended periods of time. The harm of this is that - they might not develop mental issues, but they're a lot more likely to towards the end of their career.

Removing the element of sports betting removes the incentive from match fixing scandals, there's huge reductions in these. People don't see their role models involved in these actions, which can have a huge psychological effect on you. The sport is no longer tarred with the brush of being intertwined with problem sport betting. That was a huge benefit on our side of the case. Because of all of those reasons, that's why we're very proud to affirm.

TONY DAVEY: OK, so maybe some timing issues there, but a pretty good speech. If you could go back and give some feedback to your old self, about that speech, what kind of stuff would you say?

ALEX DE ARAUJO: Yeah, so I think there's a few things I'd love to say to 16-year-old me that I didn't get the chance to. I'll start with a few good things I think that I did very well in the past. The first is I spent quite a lot of time in that speech, if you'll notice, talking about how people think and feel. So, in pretty much every point of the speech, every area of rebuttal, I was really doing my best to put myself in the shoes, in the head, of somebody who was a sports better, whether they be casual or more serious, and really explain why they thought or they felt the way they would, and why that meant that they would act in a way which helped our side of the debate, or made our arguments more likely to be true.

And, that's a really convincing way to show to an adjudicator that you understand what's going on, and that your arguments are more likely to be true than the arguments that the other team puts forward. The second thing that I really liked about my speech is that I did quite a consistent job of bringing up what my first speaker said. So, numerous times throughout that speech I would say, and this was something that our first speaker told you. Or, I would say, and my first speaker also said something which they have not responded to yet.

And, that's a really important way of making sure that the adjudicator still remembers all of the important parts of your case. Because remember, the first speaker is going to be bringing up our best arguments, and we want to make sure that they remain in the eyes of the adjudicator. And, often it's a clever way of not having to do much rebuttal yourself, if the first speaker has already said something which rebuts their arguments. So, make sure that you're keeping an eye out for opportunities to do that.

The third thing that I liked about that speech was I tried to bring up trade-offs. And, I didn't do the best job of this, but we'll get to this later. But, I did like that I was trying to say things at least like, well, maybe casual betters will have less enjoyment of the sport, but that's OK if we're willing to - you know, we're willing to trade that off if it means that there's more safety for people who might have a problem with sports betting. And, that's a good way to make your argument seem at least more important than the other team's.

That said, there were definitely a few things which we could improve on, and let's get into those. So firstly, I think structure could have been improved quite a bit. So, my macro structure wasn't too bad. It was quite clear to follow, where I had 3 issues of rebuttal, then I had an argument, I had an intro before that. But, the micro structure within each stage was quite messy. So, my introduction was very long and very rambly.

Whenever I rebutted something it sounded a bit like word vomit. I'd say a lot of things, and say a lot of sentences, but I was kind of cutting off ideas mid-idea and jumping around a lot. And, what would have been much better for me is to put those into numbered lists, and make it seem much more structured. So, adjudicators really love it when you have a clear structure. That could look something like me saying, 'OK, here's my first issue on how this is going to affect problem gamblers. The opposition said 3 things on this issue.

The first was this. We have 3 responses. 1,2,3. The second was this. We have 2 responses.' And, then move through that way. As opposed to saying something that I did, which was it went something like - 'so, then they said this, but this isn't true because of this, but also this. And, don't you think about this? What about this?' And, it's really difficult to follow, and it doesn't make it as clear that you have a lot of rebuttal.

The second thing I would improve, if I could, was timing. So, I did go over, and I definitely had to speed up at the end to get through everything. But, the main point I want to note here is actually that the biggest argument the negative team had in that debate was on consent. And, if you'll notice, that was my third issue in rebuttal. And, that meant I didn't have too much time to spend on it by the time I got to that point in my speech.

And, one thing I would definitely change is try and allocate as much time as you can to the really important arguments from the opposition, particularly if it's their most important argument. Particularly if it's something like consent, where you can identify that, it's something that an adjudicator might really care about. And, if I could have my time again, I would put that first, and spend enough time on that to feel confident. And then, if I have to cut off a little bit of time, do that on their less important arguments about perhaps something like the possibility that without sports betting people would move to more serious and harmful forms of gambling.

The final piece of feedback I would give me if I could was my arguments about the integrity of sport. I explained why it was true, but I don't think I spent enough time explaining why it was important. And, when you're a second speaker, you are going to find that you often get the worst of the arguments. You get the small ones which, you know, couldn't quite fit in the first speaker's speech. And, when that happens, it's really important to make sure you have a section at the end of your argument - and this goes for all arguments as well - just at least explaining why we should care about that.

And that's something which I think we can all learn off, or at least put that in your argument somewhere, maybe when you're talking about an example. So, that's the feedback I would give to me.

TONY DAVEY: Yeah. Very fair. I like that you started off with some compliments and good things that you did. That was nice. No one else, I think, has bothered to do that. They've just started hacking on themselves straight away. So, with that said, are you now prepared to do some rebuttal of your former self, and this time try to help the negative get up in this debate?

ALEX DE ARAUJO: I think I am as ready as I'll ever be.

TONY DAVEY: Excellent, all right then? So now, please, ladies and gentlemen, welcome the second speaker of the negative, also Alex, to continue the debate. Yay, woohoo, Alex.

ALEX DE ARAUJO: OK. So, in that speech I said 4 main things. The first is that there is an incredibly strong gambling culture in Australia at the moment, meaning that people are losing a lot of money right now. Let's think about that for a second. We have a few responses. Firstly, people only bet very, very small sums of money on sports betting, and that's because, even if there is a culture of sports betting and backing your team and gambling, there is also a much stronger culture of not throwing all of your money away, and being responsible with your money and protecting your money.

And, even I said in that speech that there is a big stigma around gambling, which is another reason why you're probably not going to be betting really big sums of money on something like sports betting. And, that means that, to lose a lot of money, you have to be betting a lot. And, if you're somebody who bets a lot, you're also somebody who's probably quite experienced with sports betting. You understand the odds, you're able to have a winning strategy, and importantly, you understand the risks.

And, finally, even if you do lose a lot of money, there is nothing necessarily wrong with that. If it's something you enjoy, we're, you know, perfectly happy to have people lose money on sports betting if they understand that. I spend a lot of money on food because I really love food, and I spend a lot of money there, but I think that's OK, because I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. And so, I don't see that spending as a waste.

Similarly, it's the same principle if somebody spends a lot of money on sports betting, even if they're losing a lot of money. If they enjoy that, if it's fun that they have with their friends, they feel like they're backing their team, it makes them feel close to their family, it's something they can do as a group, then that's totally OK. That's a totally valid way of spending your money, and it's not necessarily indicative of a very strong and problematic gambling culture.

The second thing that I said in that speech is that sports betting is a gateway to worse forms of gambling. 2 responses. Firstly, it is unclear how sports betting leads to something like going to a casino and putting all of your money into the pokies, just because there is a massive difference between those 2 things. And, in the eyes of the everyday person, it's a really, really big step from maybe putting one dollar on an app on a phone in a fun and innocent game of football, compared to going to the Star Casino and putting money into the pokies, and seeing all these seedy people around, and still doing that.

Because there's a massive difference between those 2 things, and secondly because of the massive stigma that, again, I talked about around problem gambling, it's unlikely that sports betting is going to lead to something far worse. But secondly, if anything, sports betting actually reduces problem gambling because it's a safe way for people to get out their urge to gamble, their urge to be rebellious and risky that we all have, even if we're ashamed to admit it. It's a very innocent and low risk way of getting that out, and getting that urge out of your system, without having to go to more serious forms of gambling.

So, if anything, there's actually a benefit to be had there. The third thing that I say in that speech is that you can't consent - you cannot consent, rather, to gambling because of that strong culture. But, people are ultimately a lot smarter than I would have them believe in that speech. They can make their own decisions. So, you yourself, as an individual, are in the best position to weigh up the pros and cons of how gambling relates to you specifically, whether the risk is worth the payoff.

And, the government can provide general advice and regulation, and they know how overall statistics work. But, at the end of the day, they don't understand the feelings and the excitement that you get out of it. And, they don't understand the harm that accrues to you from losing money. And, because you yourself are the only person who can truly understand those feelings, those harms, and benefits, then you are ultimately the person who should be the one to consent to whether you are allowed to sports bet or not. And, that's not a decision that the government should be allowed to make for you.

That's why you can consent, and why the government doesn't actually have a right to tell you that you cannot sports bet. The final thing that I said in that speech is that removing sports betting would improve the integrity of sport. Again, 2 responses. Firstly, there is so much oversight in sport in the modern day that you don't really get any match fixing scandals or anything like that anymore. And, so there isn't too much of a problem at the moment to be fixed.

But, secondly, if it's true at the moment that people are putting a lot of money on the results of sports people and their performance, if anything, that might actually be good for sports people's mental health. Because they feel valued, like society cares about them and their work, and that sport has an important role in the community in bringing people together. So, as much as I wanted to say in my speech that it was bad for sports people's mental health, I think there are also a lot of good reasons why it could have a positive effect on them.

And that's why, ultimately, the integrity of the sport doesn't really change in either way, but there might actually be a benefit to sports people's mental health under the negative team's side. So, that's the 4 things that I said in that speech, the main points, and that's my rebuttal to them. Tony?

TONY DAVEY: Yes. Fantastic. I thought that was excellent. And yeah, better organised, maybe, than your younger self. You've come a long way.

ALEX DE ARAUJO: Thank you very much.

TONY DAVEY: Excellent. Stay safe and thanks for rebutting yourself. See you around, Alex.

ALEX DE ARAUJO: Thanks very much, Tony. And, thanks everyone at home.

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