While the idea of getting a ball into a circle several times seems to be a bit too complex for the majority of Bradley’s athletes, I like to think the Speech Team does a bit more for this university rather than wallowing in echo chambers or contributing to rape culture. So, here are some fun facts about the team: No, we do not have priority registration, but we do practice extensive research before making false claims for how the system works. Yes, we do have a successful recruiting process of bringing around a minimum of twenty freshmen per year, who stay at Bradley even if they decide to leave the team.
But here’s where you really swept the leg, Johnny. You talked about how the honor students and athletes have more excessive workload than the Speech Team. This is my family. These people are the hardest workers you will ever see in your life and I know this because I’ve seen what this activity does to their mental and physical health. Like others, I have had to sign up for Bradley Counseling, increase my medication, go to a professional therapist, and have developed worsening clinical depression just to compete on the Bradley Speech Team. I have lost friends, changed majors, changed minors, suffered my G.P.A, and most months I don’t see my biological family for long periods of time. Yet, I would do it all again in a heartbeat, because what we do makes a difference in people’s lives and how they are treated as human beings.
There is a level of commitment for this team you can only begin to imagine, even after competing with them for years. You do not know what work is until you have experienced on average four hours of sleep every night for a week while preparing for the nation’s largest forensics competition with over six hundred students arriving on campus for The Norton. You do not know what dedication is until you have spent months re-writing speeches, missed meals, lost sleep, spent weekends competing across the nation, change suit sizes, stay at the GCC until 2 am, run across campuses in heels, cry in front of countless judge’s during the climaxes of your speeches, spent hours locked in a small room re-wording or changing the delivery of one paragraph, sacrifice mental health, sacrifice physical health, sacrifice life philosophies, and sacrifice part of your own identity just to make sure literally every single word you speak is perfect when you walk on stage in front of crowds ranging from five individuals to nearly three-hundred people. This platform is used to discuss political and social injustices in our society for people whose rights have been stolen.
We are an Army of Artists fighting for what we believe in with every ounce of blood, sweat, and tear this team can give. You do not know what passion is until you feel the weight of others’ oppression within every word you speak, within every second of every round of every tournament. I am on this team because I have lost people in my life who did not have anyone to speak for them, so I speak for them now. And they will not be silenced because you think we’re pretentious, arrogant, or given special privileges. We do not compete for the appreciation on campus, or the glory, or trophies, or recognition, or for more money (trust me, this department is severely underfunded). We compete because this activity represents what we stand for and why the people we speak for matter. So please excuse me, if I happened to take offense to your biased article. You will respect my team… and you will respect my family.