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For an airline that describes its seating as “cozy,” Spirit Airlines had remarkably good legroom. After stowing my overhead luggage, I fished out the latest edition of The Economist and buckled up for the (hopefully comfortable) flight to the National Catholic Forensic League (NCFL) Tournament in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The Economist isn’t exactly perfect in-flight entertainment, but it’s the bread and butter of any extemper (speech and debate lingo for anyone who competes in extemporaneous speech). Extemporaneous speech draws from a wide range of global headlines-- everything from Uber to the Kremlin --, and The Economist covers them all. Magazines such as The Economist form the backbone of any good extemp speech.

Not even Spirit Airline’s lack of complimentary in-flight peanuts could dull my enthusiasm as I left for Ft. Lauderdale. However, as the lone competitor from my school, I also felt a hint of unease. Unlike our competition, my school’s team didn’t have any funding or a coach. Our team was small and entirely self-taught. Nobody on my team had ever done extemp before, so I didn’t have anyone to guide me. I was incredibly thankful to even have the chance to compete with nationally ranked teams.

Being sandwiched in the...

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