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Inaugural Riverboat Gambler Swing Is a Safe Bet for Top-notch Forensic Competition

The University of Cincinnati Forensic Team will co-host the two-day fundraising event, featuring schools from across the region competing in numerous speech and debate contests.

Date: 9/26/2012
By: Tom Robinette
Phone: (513) 556-8577
It might seem odd that an event called the Riverboat Gambler Swing is coming to the University of Cincinnati’s campus, considering gambling isn’t among the extracurricular activities encouraged for college students.

However in this type of gamble, it’s a person’s prowess with parlance on the line, not his pocketbook.

UC will co-host with Miami University the inaugural Riverboat Gambler Swing forensics team competition on Oct. 6 and 7 with many Department of Communication faculty serving as judges. Keep in mind there will be no autopsies nor dusting for fingerprints at this event. This kind of forensics is about formal speech and debate, not crime scenes.

“Forensics is a reference to speaking and arguing,” says Wendy Larcher, adjunct assistant professor of communication in the McMicken College of Arts & Sciences and coach of the UC Forensic Team. “It was that long before there was ever ‘CSI’ on television.”

The invitational tournament will be a swing format, meaning two universities will each host a day’s worth of competition. On Saturday, UC will host 11 individual events and parliamentary debate; Miami will host 11 individual events and Lincoln-Douglas debate on Sunday. Events will be held in McMicken and Braunstein halls. The “riverboat gambler” part of the name is a tribute to Cincinnati’s river city heritage, and the event coincides with UC's Homecoming festivities - including the Bearcats' football game against the Miami RedHawks at Nippert Stadium.

Larcher says her team had considered hosting its own event for years, but lack of resources for the small squad proved prohibitive. It wasn’t until they reached out to Miami, which has experience hosting tournaments, that this year’s competition went from dream to reality.

Larcher is hoping about 15 schools will attend this important fundraiser for her team. UC’s squad typically averages 20 members from a variety of majors – communication, business, design, engineering – and travels with about half that number to tournaments throughout the region. Though relatively small in number, last year the team qualified four individuals for the National Forensic Association’s national competition. Larcher has seen how her team members thrive on the competition and knows skills learned through forensics translate well into a range of professional environments.

“I’m big on trying to help students develop better critical thinking skills, and forensics certainly does that,” Larcher says. “The more you can get in front of an audience and lucidly present your ideas in an organized, memorable and interesting fashion, the more you’re perceived as a leader. Forensics also enhances your other co-curricular involvement in the greater university community and prepares you to be more competitive in the business and work world.”

For more information about the event, contact Larcher at 513-556-4412 or

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