2020 Think-Off Debate Cancelled
Submitted Essays Valid for 2021
Essays Accepted Until 4/1/21
2021 Think-Off Debate June 12, 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Great American Think-Off debate has been cancelled. This year’s question, “Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?” will become the question debated at the 2021 Think-Off scheduled to be held June 12, 2021.

Rest assured this decision was not made lightly. The Think-Off has been running uninterrupted for 27 years, a fact that the organizers of this event take great pride in. Staff, board and committee members discussed a number of options, including a virtual event or postponement to the fall, but in the end decided that due to the uncertainty of COVID-19, cancellation/postponement was the best route to ensure both the safety of the participants and the quality and integrity of the event. We do intend to research options to make the debate more virtually accessible in 2021 and beyond.

Our organizational mission, vision, and values are all about community, connections and creativity, and we believe strongly in the power of the arts in bringing people together and celebrating our local cultures and communities, while also providing access to new and different perspectives and experiences. The Think-Off is our longest-running, most well-known program, and really embodies the spirit of our organization, providing an opportunity for big thinking and civil discourse in the heart of rural America.

Based on all of this, during the current COVID-19 crisis, we simply did not feel that it would be responsible for us to hold this public event that brings together so many people from such a wide swath of the region and beyond, when physical distancing is encouraged to support the health and safety and our communities.

In summary:

  • There will be NO finalists announced May 1, 2020.
  • There will be NO debate held on June 13, 2020.
  • The 2020 question has now become the 2021 question!

2021 Great American Think-Off Question:

“Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?”

Here is what you need to know about submitting an essay to answer this question for the 2021 Great American Think-Off:

  • If you already submitted an essay for 2020, you are still entered for the 2021 Great American Think-Off! (Please see below for more information/options for those who have already entered.)
  • Essays will continue to be accepted from now until April 1, 2021.
  • Finalists will be announced May 1, 2021.
  • The 2021 Think-Off live debate will be held on June 12, 2021.

Additionally, because of these unprecedented circumstances, the Think-Off committee has decided to give those who have already submitted an essay some freedom and choice related to that essay. Previous entrants (those who submitted an essay on April 15, 2020 or earlier) have the following options:

  • Option 1: Make no changes to your essay. Your official entry will be the one we have already received.
  • Option 2: Revise or rewrite your essay and submit your new version online. We will delete your old one and replace it with the new version.
    • If you choose option 2, please indicate “revised” in the online form for ease of processing. (We will also be diligent in checking our list of entrants as new essays come in.)

Finally, if you have already purchased a ticket to attend the Think-Off debate, it is valid for the 2021 debate to be held on June 12, 2021. If you are unable to attend in 2021, we ask that you consider donating the purchase price to us as we work to plan a new and improved Think-Off for 2021. Or, if you prefer, we will refund the purchase. If you would like to request a refund, please email info@think-off.org with “Refund request” in the subject line.

We thank you all for your patience and understanding during this difficult time in our world. We look forward to coming together to celebrate philosophy, civil discourse, and community vitality with you in June 2021. Until then, keep thinking, discussing, sharing, and cultivating art and community in new and creative ways!