Minneapolis man wins Great American Think-Off
The 2021 Think-Off question was “Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?” Tschida was among four philosophers during the 28th annual Think-Off in New York Mills.
NEW YORK MILLS — The Cultural Center in New York Mills announced Dan Tschida of Minneapolis won the 2021 Great American Think-Off Saturday, June 12, successfully arguing his position that playing by the rules is more important than winning.
The 2021 Think-Off question was “Which is more important: to win or to play by the rules?” Tschida was among four philosophers during the 28th annual Think-Off in New York Mills. Tschida defeated AJ Gil of Atlanta in the final round.
Gil first outargued Angela Stehr of St. Paul in Round 1, where both contestants were asserting winning is more important than playing by the rules. Tschida defeated Bill Sutherland of Eden Prairie in Round 2, where both were arguing playing by the rules is more important.
Throughout the debate, silver medalist Gil returned to the point that the rules are made by those who have won, which supports his stance that winning is more important. Tschida shared his belief that fundamental human values are an overarching set of rules to follow even when rules made by people need to be changed.
In the final round, Tschida began by arguing character is built by losing, and sticking to your values and the rules is how you really win in life. Gil responded that character is defined by principle, and following an unjust rule is not following your principles. Tschida later returned to this point, arguing principles are rules, and thus following your principles, even if it means breaking an unjust rule, is still following the rules. Gil argued fundamental principles are not absolute, and we sometimes need to adjust our principles when looking at rules and whether they are unjust and need to be broken.
After the debate, the audience voted on who they thought won. The Cub Scouts collected ballots, votes were tallied and the majority determined Tschida best argued his position, and thus earned both the gold medal and the title of America’s Greatest Thinker for 2021.
Tschida has lived in south Minneapolis for the past 25 years, where he makes a home with his wife and two teenage daughters. For the past 17 years, Tschida taught social studies at Columbia Heights High School. Prior to this, he was a lawyer at a large Minneapolis law firm for several years. After law school, he clerked for a justice on the Idaho Supreme Court, a judge in Hennepin County, and a Magistrate Judge in U.S. District Court. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Northwestern University in Illinois, a law degree from the University of Minnesota and an education degree from the University of St. Thomas.
For more information about the Think-Off or this year’s debate, call the Cultural Center at 218-385-3339 or visit think-off.org .