U.K. Debaters discuss potential change in classification for Olympic athletes

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  • WT Forensics Team member Tearanee Lockhart stands at the podium to deliver her speech.

  • WT Forensics Team member Kaleigh Rodarte-Suto stands at the podium for her speech.

  • U.K. Debater Niamh Thompson stands at the podium to give her speech.

  • U.K. Debater Dan Scanio at the podium for his first speech of the night.

  • Both members of the WT Forensics Team after the debate.

  • The U.K. Debaters standing by their poster in the Fine Arts Complex.

  • Both U.K. Debaters after the debate.

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On Monday at Legacy Hall, Jack B. Kelly Student Center, two members of the WT Forensics Team debated with two colleagues from the U.K. The topic was a proposal to make the Olympic games categorized by height, weight, and muscle mass instead of sex. The attendants of the debate were allowed vocal approval or disapproval by saying “here, here!” or “for shame!” and were also encouraged to move to either side of the aisle to represent their stance on the issue. At least half of the speeches motivated ten or more people to walk to the opposite side of the aisle.
This is a topic receiving global attention, so it is no surprise the attendants had trouble being firm in their decision. Transgender weightlifter Laura Hubbard is one of the more recent controversial stories due to her victories in women’s competitions. Hubbard, who used to compete as a man, was publicly addressed by a New Zealand-based lobby group “Speak Up For Women.” Spokesperson Ani O’Brien said, “Kiwis (New Zealanders) know that males competing in women’s sport is blatantly unfair.” Hubbard has not yet competed in the Olympics but if she does, she will have to maintain a testosterone level below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least a full year prior to competition, according to Reuters.com.
Although the debate did not cover Hubbard’s story, topics such as Billie Jean King’s famous victory over Bobby Riggs and the potential of increasing scrutiny on transgender athletes (if the resolution were approved) were touched on. Member of the WT Forensics Team, Kaleigh Rodarte-Suto, paired up with Dan Scanio, philosophy graduate from Oxford Brookes University, forming the side arguing the Olympics should be categorized by height, weight, and muscle mass. Arguing the other side was WT Forensics Team member Tearaneé Lockhart joined by Niamh Thompson, a graduate of medicine from the University of Glasgow in Scotland.
The debate was hosted by the communication honor society of WTAMU, Lambda Pi Eta (LPH). “I thought the debate was extremely interesting and well delivered.” said Tori Browder, Vice President of LPH and emcee of the debate. “The U.K. debaters really brought some creativity to their debate.”