Ethics Slam             Ethics Bowl             

2021 Virtual Bowl Guidelines and Rules

The Virtual Bowl Overview: Making The Most of the Bowl We Are Dealt

1. The 2021 Bowl will be convened online using the Zoom videoconference platform in two parts: 3 Opening Rounds over 2 weekends in the fall (October 31-November 1 for Round 1 and November 7-8, 2020 for Rounds 2 & 3) and the Quarter, Semi and Final over 1 weekend in the winter (Quarterfinal on February 6, 2020 and Semi and Final on February 7, 2020).

2. The 3 Opening Rounds will include all participating teams examining the Opening Round Case Studies. The Rounds 1-3 Case Studies are:  

The traditional random draw procedure for match pairings will be conducted on Zoom and will require the presence of a faculty coach or designated representative. The match drawing date for the Opening Rounds is set for Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 8pm. 

For the Quarterfinal and Semifinal, the random draw (if conducted on Zoom) for the Quarterfinal will be Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Semifinal draw will take place on Saturday, February 6th. 

3. Each school is allowed two teams of 5 “at the Zoom table.” If a school has more than 10 interested students, these students can be assigned to one or the other team as team alternates; in a given match, coaches may substitute designated alternate students “at the Zoom table” to offer them a chance to participate. Coaches may not, however, change out team members during any match/round. Further, it would be a good idea to have standby student members, in case one team member has technical difficulties with Zoom. In any case, a list of team members will be required and must be sent to A2Ethics organizers before the Opening Rounds begin. The deadline: October 20th. This is also the case for the Quarter, Semi and Finals. A list of team members will be required by February 1, 2021.

4. The Virtual Bowl format means:
a. Schools must agree to secure and be responsible for fielding an even number of teams at the Opening Rounds competition.The decision on team number per school will be based on the number of years a school has belonged to the Bowl program. To be sure, all efforts will be made to accommodate the number of teams schools request. 

5. After all Opening Round results are calculated, using the same criteria and standards as all previous in-person Bowls, A2Ethics organizers will announce the Michigan Bowl quarterfinals, the 8 teams that will move on to the ending rounds. There is a long break before the quarterfinal, semi and the final.
Why? Two reasons:
a. Judges will not be available from mid-November through Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in mid-January, given current pandemic schedules for most universities and colleges.
b. By February 2021, we may be able to host an in-person Bowl. Current Bowl champs and faculty coach Mark Randolph from AA Greenhills School stepped up early on and offered their space...and their parking.

6. Whether the Bowl is possible in-person or not; we have a plan to do it in both realities. The ending rounds will be: February 6 and 7, 2021.

7. Beginning with the Quarterfinal, the Bowl is a single elimination competition. For the Bowl scoring criteria, judge score sheets and ranking and tiebreaker rules:

The Zoom Code: Expectations Directed to All Match Participants on Bowl Days

1. Basic Gear/Location:
a. Desktop computer or laptop with microphone, webcam, and speakers (headsets preferred). Tablets can be used, but laptops preferred.
b. Reliable high-speed internet connection.
c. Pad of paper and pen/pencil for note writing during the competition.
d. A secondary form of communication (WhatsApp, Group chat, FB Chat, etc.) that can be used by teammates ONLY during competition conferring times. Please make sure that you read and follow The Virtual Bowl Honor Code:
e. A quiet space free from distractions during the competition. We realize this may be hard to do, but we ask all Bowl participants to try their best.

2. Expectations:
a. Please close other windows in your browser so there are no extra sounds/notifications.
b. Make sure you test the audio and video before each match.
c. Students should make sure their first name, last name and school name appears at the bottom of their screen. Example: bell hooks/Hopkinsville HS.
d. Moderators and judges will include their names and role at the bottom of their screens. Examples: Xanthippe/Moderator.
e. Coaches will include their names, their role and school. Example: Nagarjuna/Philosopher Coach/Nalanda University.
f. Be able to use the "mute" functions of Zoom. Please mute your speaker unless you are speaking. And make sure you have your video on.
g. Before Bowl match days, please be familiar with common difficulties in using Zoom. Some troubleshooting tips:

The Honor Code: Expectations Directed to Students and Faculty Coaches On Bowl Days

The Virtual Bowl requires several ethical habits, expectations and efforts by students and coaches— and everyone else--to give all teams and students a fair chance and opportunity to be and do their best during the competition. We are confident all students and coaches will exemplify ethical behavior and be true to these expectations:
1. No use of outside notes. One exception: Students should have a copy of all of the case studies (without any notes) to refer to during matches.
2. No use of the internet for information-gathering or fact-checking during matches.
3. No use of other physical resources aside from blank paper and pen/pencil.
4. No communication with outside individuals during the competition. Exceptions can be made for emergencies at home.

Do think about your obligations to your community, to your team and to each other.

Bowl Time Slots for Rounds 1, 2 and 3 and Timing Procedures for Matches

1. The matches over 2 weekends commence with Saturday, October 31st and end on Sunday, November 8th. Matches will begin and end at these intervals:
• 10am-11:15am
• 11:30am-12:45pm • 1:30pm-2:45pm
• 3:00pm-4:15pm
• 4:30pm-5:45pm
Student teams and judges will be required to check in one half hour before their match time to ensure that Zoom is working for them. Each team will have 1 match on the 1st Round weekend and 2 matches, one on each day, of the Rounds 2 and 3 weekend. The match schedule is here:

2. Conferring times have been extended for the Virtual Bowl. The Zoom transitions require a few minutes more as student teams return from breakout rooms—just to mention one example. Presentation, commentary and response segments are the same as in previous Bowls. The new timing for each segment is:

Presentation conferring by both Teams: 3 minutes
Presentation: 6 minutes
Commentary conferring by both Teams: 2 minutes
Commentary: 3 minutes
Response conferring by both Teams: 2 minutes
Response: 3 minutes
Judge questions: 10 minutes
Judge feedback to teams: 2 minutes

3. The timing and procedure for refereeing and managing the judge 10 minute question session, and subsequent responses by the presenting team to these questions will be directed by the match moderator. It would be a good idea for judges to decide judge order for questions during their conferring times. For teams, it would be useful to determine who is going to be the point person in fielding questions, or alternatively, to announce to the moderator that any member of the team may answer judge questions.

Break Out! The Virtual Bowl Features Several Opportunities

1. The Zoom breakout room feature is used when student teams and judges need to confer with each other to prepare their discussions or questions. When a conferring time is announced, both Teams A and B as well as judges and moderator will be teleported to their respective breakout rooms for the allotted time. With 30 seconds remaining, a reminder will pop up for Teams A and B and the judges and moderator to wrap up their conferences. Before any match begins, team members should make sure that everyone on their team has gone over and respects The Honor Code unique to the Virtual Bowl:

Bowl Matches and Timing For the Quarter, Semi and Final: In-person or Virtual?

1. The Quarter, Semi and Final are taking place on Saturday, February 6 and Sunday, February 7, 2021. If the organizers receive consent for an in-person Bowl from the leadership of Ann Arbor Greenhills School, the Bowl will switch from online to offline and in-person---rooms and time schedules to be announced. If schools remain all virtual in February, the Quarter, Semi and Final will be conducted on Zoom. The Quarterfinal will be on February 6th and the Semifinal and Final on February 7th – time schedules to be announced.

The Two “Tees”– Technology and Training

1. Zoom is the videoconferencing platform for 2020-21 Virtual Michigan Ethics Bowl.

2. Basic Zoom training is the responsibility of the individuals volunteering and participating in the Bowl. The organizers are not able to provide tutorials. The Zoom corporation offers instruction in the use of its services at this link: 

There is a Zoom code that all participants must know and remember in order to ensure that technical snafus and difficulties are minimized. The Zoom Code is:

3. Prior to the Bowl, moderators and judges will need to be familiar with and able to perform their Bowl-specific roles on Zoom. Toward that goal:
a. An introduction and pre-match training via video and through communications with the A2Ethics organizers will be required for all Bowl judges in the use of the electronic score sheet, based on the scoring criteria. The scoring criteria and the score sheet have not changed for the Virtual Bowl. There are, however, several online and electronic features for judges to know about and how to use them before judging their matches.
b. Likewise, moderators will receive video training in delivering the Moderator Script, modified to conform to Bowl rules, including the requirements and features of Zoom relevant to their moderating role.

4. A2Ethics organizers will offer a date and time for school teams and their coaches to have a Zoom practice at least once before the Opening Rounds. The practice will be managed and produced by A2Ethics and will simulate as closely as possible the Bowl match circumstances. The time window for these practices is: Tuesday, October 13-Thursday, October 22, 2020.

5. The Virtual Bowl will be recorded. No match of the Michigan Virtual Bowl, however, will be available online. Nor will any match be streamed, circulated or published after all Rounds of the Bowl have taken place. The limitations of Zoom and the format of the Virtual Bowl do not allow for audiences or listeners, except for team coaches. All participants as well as the organizers can publicize the event afterward, using their choice of communications and media.

The Virtual Bowl’s End

To say this year is at once anomalous, unparalleled, unsettled, and a first in our lifetimes, is too obvious. So, we have said it.

We truly hope that everyone affiliated with the Michigan High School Ethics Bowl has not lost family and friends to COVID over the past year.

We wish that we could all be together to celebrate philosophy and ethics for the Michigan Bowl’s 8th season. And to celebrate each student's talents and being members of a special community committed to learning about public ethics in a democracy.

Over the years, we have established several fun traditions unique to the Michigan Bowl: An opening ceremony and introduction of the teams; prizes for the best team name; team photos; and the swag of the season. The winner of our annual Michigan Bowl is the state champion and the holder of The Hemlock Cup. And the Michigan Ethics Bowl champions are our treasured ambassadors, representing Michigan in the annual National Bowl in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. We have every hope that the National Bowl will occur in-person in April, 2021.

Whether it is in-person or not, we will all be cheering on the 2021 Michigan Ethics Bowl champions!

Even if most of our traditions are on hold, we have a Plan B for this year:
1. Instead of making up a creative team name that is philosophical or a play on philosopher names: We invite each team to decide on a theme song for their team. A best theme song prize will be announced at the end of the Opening Rounds. As we have done in the past, the theme song will be voted on by the volunteers and organizers of the Bowl. The winning team members will receive gift certificates from a favorite restaurant in their community.
2. Each student in the 2020-21 Michigan High School Ethics Bowl will receive a certificate affirming their participation in the first ever – Virtual One. We hope the 2020-21 the only one.

If it is not, we will have learned a lot from each other. And together, we have kept the legacy alive. Everyone participating will be part of Bowl history. 

Philosophy For All. Philosophy Forever.