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Ethics Bowl Team left unsatisfied after loss at tournament


There is one way all the members of the Wilson Ethics Bowl team describe the tournament they competed in last Saturday: unethical.

Coming into the tournament as reigning regional champions, the team had high expectations, however neither of their teams were able to place in the top 4, which they attribute mostly to the system of judging at the tournament.

Ethics Bowl is a competition where teams are presented cases and they have to find the most ethical solution, using ethical theories such as utilitarianism and consequentialism to back up their arguments. They also have to respond to questions and comments from the opposing team and from a panel of judges. The regional tournament is held once a year at American University. This year Wilson had two teams competing: Team A, which was comprised of all the juniors and seniors, and Team B, comprised of the freshman and sophmores. Team B ended up with a record of 3-0, while Team A ended 1-2.

John Keating, a junior on the team, said the results were, “very frustrating, as most of the time we felt we were the better team and then we did not win.”

Only the winner of the regional tournament is eligible to compete at Nationals at UNC Chapel Hill, which this year was a team from School Without Walls. Keating said not going to Nationals is really disappointing to them, as last year, “We were by far the best team from the DMV there.”

While both teams did well considering they were facing formidable competition, they were left unsatisfied as they felt the judging was extremely unfair. All teams at the tournament compete in three matches, and teams with the highest record are supposed to move on to semifinals. However, because more than two teams were undefeated after the preliminary rounds, the teams that move on are the ones with the highest scores from the judges. Wilson’s Team B were undefeated after all three of their rounds, but were not chosen. Team B ended up winning an award for “Best Commentary”, but it didn’t feel like much conciliation.  “The award felt like a slap in the face because we didn’t get to go to finals,” said Angeline Daniels, a freshman on the team.  

The team also faced challenges leading up to the tournament. Ceramics teacher Mary Lambert, who coaches Ethics Bowl, has been on maternity leave since November, meaning the team has had to mostly prepare on their own, with some help from volunteers, students at American University.

The team will spend the rest of the year reviewing the cases and working on improving their performance. Both Keating and Daniels said despite the disappointing results they are proud of their hard work and collaboration as a team.

“Ethics Bowl is such a great experience, and we hope to make it to semifinals and maybe even finals next year,” Daniels said.

The Ethics Bowl team meets Tuesdays and Thursdays in Lambert’s room at STEP for anyone looking to join. •