Elliot S. Tarloff ’05 is being hailed on the policy debate list-serv as an exemplary loser—an admirable competitor whose grace underscores the importance of dignity and good sportsmanship.
That should give you an idea of how the National Debate Tournament (NDT) went for him and his fellow gunslinger Michael M. Klinger ’05-’06, the heroes of last month’s FM cover story, which followed the Harvard Policy Debate team to Chicago for a smaller competition that ended in brilliant, promising victory. Things went worse in Spokane, Wash., last week, with the bad luck starting on day one, when Klinger and Tarloff were passed up for the year-end Copeland Award in favor of those villains from Northwestern, the pair’s longtime rivals.
With a handful of new attacks planned—and for the seniors on the team, the anticipation of their last-ever debate rounds—they were primed to take Spokane by storm.
Harvard debater Daniel E. Luxemburg ’07 called me during the last day of competition at the NDT audibly out of breath.
“Do you know anything about what’s happening here? Klinger and Tarloff are out. They lost in double-octofinals.”
Already, this was an incredible turn of events. KT, as they are known in the community, were the No. 2-ranked team in the country, and for them to lose on the first stage of elimination rounds was a monstrous upset. More surprisingly, Luxemburg and his partner Christine A. Malumphy ’05 had made it to the semis, and they would face Northwestern, Harvard’s biggest rival, for a chance at the finals.
Even though they ended up losing, letting Northwestern go on to beat Berkeley for the number-one spot, they did better than Harvard has at the NDT in a decade.
A documentarian filming the event reportedly explained that the Northwestern victory was “like Bush winning again.”
Despite KT’s upset, the Harvard team has closed the season in glory. In addition to Lux and Malumphy’s fiery finish, Klinger was the NDT’s top speaker, and Tarloff got fourth. Luxemburg came in 15th, and Malumphy, who got 23rd, bowed out of the debate game on a thrilling high note. Granted, no Copeland trophy this year (the answer to our cover from March 10 is apparently “no”), but as speculation about next season begins and Tarloff starts planning his post college years as an American playboy in London, the gang is primed for revenge.