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High school debaters analyze Trump-Biden debate

"Debate does such a good job in moving away from dogmatic warrantless assertions and instead moving toward the substance," said Arnav, a high school debater.

COPPELL, Texas — Debate is a competitive sport pitting two people and two ideas against each other on one stage. For high school debaters Shabbir Bohri and Arnav Kashyab, the stakes are considerably lower than for President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. But, there might be some tips the statesmen can take from these students that might help the presidential debate reach national expectations.

"Last night was not a good example of academic debate," said Coppell High School debate coach Jason Sykes.

Shabbir and Arnav are two national-level debaters on Coppell High School's state- and nationally-ranked program. When WFAA caught up with the two high school seniors they were engaging in what is called Lincoln-Douglas debate. It was quickly evident that the mock academic debate was more about verbal jabs and cerebral takedowns than character put-downs. 

RELATED: VERIFY: Breaking down Trump-Biden debate exchange over the Affordable Care Act

And unlike what the country saw on Tuesday night on the national debate stage, these high schools showed you can be passionate without being petty.

"Debate does such a good job in moving away from dogmatic warrantless assertions and instead moving toward the substance," said Arnav. The substance the two high schoolers were hoping to see on Tuesday night would be about policy. 

Instead, we heard countless interruptions and both candidates talking over each other.  

RELATED: Debate commission says it will make changes to format

"One of the first things you learn in academic debate is to listen and respond to what your opponents say," said Sykes. "What our debaters can show the world is that we can engage in these conversations in a civil way," he said.

Political debate will never be academic debate, but President Trump and Joe Biden may be able to learn a thing or two from these students.

RELATED: VERIFY: Fact-checking the first presidential debate

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