Ethics Slam             Ethics Bowl             

2021 Virtual Bowl Guidelines and Rules: Updated 10/12/2020

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, 2021).

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

The traditional random draw procedure for match pairings was conducted on Zoom in the presence of faculty coaches or a designated representative from participating schools . The match drawing date for the Opening Rounds was Thursday, October 1, 2020 at 8pm. The match schedule for all 3 rounds is here: 

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. Each team can seat a maximum of 5 students at the Zoom table and 1 alternate. So, six total. Some teams will have the same students at the table for all 3 rounds--if they have 1 team and fewer students. A few teams may also seat the minimum, which is 3 members.   

4. For each of the 3 opening rounds, a school can have different students seated in a given round, BUT schools must not MIX TEAMS if the school has two teams. For example, members of AA Pioneer Team 1 are always members of AA Pioneer Team 1.  

5. Coaches must send a final roster of the students (including alternates) selected for each of the 3 rounds in order for those students to be admitted to the Zoom call and match. The deadline is: Tuesday, OCTOBER 20th. For example: Saline has 2 teams. There are 10 students on Saline Team 1. For the 1st round, 6 of those 10 students on Saline Team 1 are selected (5 seated at the table and 1 alternate). For the 2nd round, 4 different students are selected as well as 2 students from the 1st round (again, 5 chosen to sit at the table and 1 alternate). These 10 students must be selected from the Saline Team 1 roster.  

6. Coaches decide which students are in what rounds. If a student selected for a given round, including alternates, is not available on the day of the match, no roster changes can be made.

7. The role of the alternate on the team is to be a "standby-to-be-potentially-activated" teammate in the event that one of the 5 active students on the team has either a technical glitch or becomes ill or faces an emergency during the match. If this happens, team members have the option to determine whether the alternate takes a seat at the Zoom table to take over and fully participate with the team for the rest of the match. For more information on alternate student guidelines, please go to the VBowl What Coaches and Students Must Know section and scroll down to The Alternate Student Role:

To reiterate, a list of team members participating in each of the 3 rounds is required and must be sent to A2Ethics organizers before the Opening Rounds begin. The deadline: October 20th. These student lists will also be necessary for the Quarter, Semi and Finals. Coaches must send their team rosters for the Quarter, Semi and Finals by February 1, 2021. In the event the Bowl is in-person, rather than Virtual for the ending rounds, A2Ethics organizers will inform coaches of any changes to this guideline.  

8. 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 is based on the number of years a school has belonged to the Bowl program. The last school or schools to join may be required to fold into one team if there is an odd number of teams before the Opening Rounds are scheduled to begin. To be sure, all efforts will be made to accommodate the number of teams schools (maximum of 2) can field. 

9. After all Opening Round results are calculated, using the same criteria and standards as all previous in-person Bowls, A2Ethics organizers will announce and publish 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.

10. 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.

11. 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 for 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. While matches are on, other wifi users at participant location and not involved in the competition, should limit use of other streaming services, e.g., Netflix, YouTube, and downloading of large files or updates, e.g., movies, games.
d. Quiet space free from distractions during matches.  
e. Secondary form of communication (messaging/chat app) is permitted and can be used by students ONLY when in match BREAKOUT ROOMS. Coaches can use these tools ONLY before and after matches to communicate with teams. All participants need to read and follow The Virtual Ethics Bowl Honor Code.

2. Expectations:
a. Please close any unnecessary windows in browsers so there are no extra sounds/notifications.
b. Make sure audio and video are tested and working before each match.
c. Students should be prepared to enter a match with first and last name, school and team number appearing at the bottom of the screen. Example: bell hooks/Hopkinsville/Team 1.
d. Coaches should be prepared to enter a match with first and last name, school and role appearing at the bottom of the screen. Example: Nagarjuna/Nalanda University/Coach.
e. Be able to use the "mute" functions of Zoom. Students should be on mute all of the time unless speaking (Coaches have a listening role only during matches). In addition, everyone should have their video on. 
f. Before Bowl match days, please be familiar with common difficulties in using Zoom. Some troubleshooting tips:
g. While matches are taking place, they will be recorded. This allows a play-back option for match judges if there is no judge quorum, which means 3 judges did not hear the full match. The Virtual Bowl, however, is a private event and will not be streamed, circulated or published online. While the Bowl welcomes parents and community members to watch, listen and root for young people and their teams engaged in thinking of the highest caliber, the limitations of Zoom are not audience-friendly in the way that we would like spectators to experience the event. Further, gathering release forms from over 160 individuals, after it was considered, would have been a full-time job in itself. Even so, there are ways to remember the 2021 Bowl, and recognize the community spirit and philosophy and ethics "fandom" that it celebrates. Before and after the Bowl---students, parents, coaches, judges and A2Ethics organizers are welcome to publicize, share and promote their Bowl participation and experiences through their own communication tools and social media.   

The Virtual Ethics Bowl Honor Code: Expectations for Students and Faculty Coaches On Bowl Days

The Virtual Ethics Bowl requires several ethical habits, expectations and efforts by students and coaches—and everyone else involved--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 access to or a copy of all 10 case studies (without any notes) to refer to during matches.
2. No use of the internet or any other education/knowledge resource 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/groups not admitted in matches or involved in the competition. 

Please remember your obligations to your community, to your team, to other teams, and to everyone affiliated with Ethics Bowl.   

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

1. The matches over 2 weekends commence on 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

Student teams and judges will be required to check in 10 minutes before their match time to ensure that Zoom is working for them and that everyone has the correct identifying information to participate in a match. 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:

2. The match schedule is tight. For this reason, when the 3 match judges are accounted for by the producer and moderator, matches will start at the publicized time (EST zone) in the schedule. Late participants can get on the call when they are able, but the moderator will not wait for them to start the match.    

3. Conferring times have been extended for the Virtual Bowl. Zoom transitions require a few minutes more as student teams return from breakout rooms. In addition, both Team A and B will be moving to breakout rooms, where they can both confer. Judges will have their own breakout room with the moderators. 

Presentation, commentary and response segments are the same as in previous Bowls. In the VBowl, however, there will be no opportunity or time for Judge Feedback. The new timing for each VBowl 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

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. Judges will decide their order for questions during their conferring times. When judge questions begin, teams should announce to the moderator whether they have decided to have one person fielding questions or whether any member of the team may answer judge questions. Whatever the decision, it will be necessary to decide on a visible and consistent signal to indicate which student wishes to respond to a judge question. 

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 (3 minutes). To monitor time, student teams, judges and moderators can use the timer at the upper right corner of their screens. And just a reminder, before any match takes place, team members should make sure that everyone on their team has gone over and respects The Virtual Ethics Bowl Honor Code:

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 here:

3. Prior to the Bowl, moderators and judges will need to be familiar with and able to perform their Bowl-specific roles on Zoom. 
a. All Bowl judges will be required to complete a short pre-match training video, with speciall attention accorded to the electronic scoring system. The scoring criteria and the score sheet have not changed and are the same 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. The VBowl Judge Training Video is here:
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 organizers. The time window for these practices is: Thursday, October 20--Thursday, October 29, 2020.


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 as 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 holder of The Hemlock Cup. The Michigan Ethics Bowl champions are 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 special theme song that represents their team. The only requirement: the song has an ethical twist, presents an ethics idea or principle, or includes a topic with ethical implications. 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 Bowl volunteers. The winners of the best theme song contest will receive a $150 donation to their school Ethics Bowl Club. 

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 Bowl…is the only one.

If it is not, we will have learned a lot from each other. And together,we have kept the legacy alive.    

Philosophy For All. Philosophy Forever.