The Epic 1969 UH-Harvard Debate Competition Still Haunts

Categories: Movies
houston1969ndt.jpg
Photo courtesy Debate Team
Things we did not know until today: The University of Houston had a kick-ass debate team in 1969, one that swaggered in to the national finals predicting victory only to lose to Harvard. And one of the members of that team has never gotten over the loss, and gotten so depressed about it he considered suicide.

This all comes out in the movie Debate Team, a documentary that's available on DVD and focuses mostly on porn. Nah, actually it focuses mostly on modern debate competitions, where contestants speak at an undecipherable 360 words per minute in order to get all their points in. (Specially trained judges are required to make sense of what they say.)

But the movie also looks at the apparently epic 1969 tournament, and the effect it had on Michael Miller, a now-retired attorney.
According to the film's website:

t the 1969 National Championship, a debate team from Harvard prevailed over the University of Houston. And Michael Miller from the Houston team has never been able to let go of that defeat. Miller, now a retired lawyer, discusses his life-long obsession with debate, his suicidal ideation, his ruined romances, and the self-hate borne of the loss to Harvard 37 years earlier.
It also includes a photo of Harvard's team mocking UH for having been quoted in the Chronicle predicting victory. (There's nothing like a debate-team dis, we're sure.)

dis1969.jpg
Photo courtesy Debate Team

That's Harvard's team mocking the UH team; one guy's holding the Chronicle clip and one guy's holding a placard with the "We predict victory" quote. We take back what we said about debate-team disses.

This wasn't quite the Elvin Hayes-Lew Alcindor UH-UCLA of the same time (or Harvard's 29-29 football "win" over Yale, for that matter) , but we guess it was if you're into debate.

Maybe Netflixable; we'll see.

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