Ethics Slam             Ethics Bowl             

2021 Virtual Bowl Guidelines and Rules: Updated 1/15/2021

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

1. The 2021 Bowl was launched online, using the Zoom videoconference platform with 3 Opening Rounds. Sixteen teams from 10 schools participated over 2 weekends in the fall of 2020 (October 31-November 1 for Round 1 and November 7-8, 2020 for Rounds 2 & 3).

The Ending Rounds, also on Zoom, are taking place on February 6, 2021 (Quarterfinal) and February 7, 2021 (Semi and Final).

2. The Quarterfinal Rounds include the following teams: 

AA Greenhills School Team 1
AA Greenhills School Team 2
AA Huron Team 2
AA Skyline 
Saline Team 1
Wayne Memorial
WIHI Team 1
WIHI Team 2

The Ending Round Case Studies are here:

3. For the Quarterfinal, the random draw, which requires the presence of participating school faculty coaches or a designated representative, will be determined on a Zoom call. The draw date was Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 8pm.

The quarterfinal match schedule is here:

The Semifinal draw, again on Zoom, will take place on Saturday, February 6th, right after the announcement of the semifinalist teams, around 5pm. The ending rounds are a single elimination competition.  

4. In a match, each quarterfinalist team can seat a maximum of 5 students at the Zoom table and 1 alternate. The minimum number for teams is 3 members.   

5. For schools that go onto the semifinal and the final, it is possible to seat different students, BUT participating schools with 2 teams cannot mix teams. For example, members of AA Greenhills Team 1 are always members of AA Greenhills Team 1.  

6. Coaches must send a final roster of the students (including alternates) eligible to participate in the Ending Rounds in order for those students to be admitted to the Zoom call and match. The deadline is: Monday, February 1, 2021. For example: WIHI has 2 teams in the quarterfinal. There are 10 students eligible to participate on WIHI Team 1 from the submitted roster. For the quarterfinal, 6 of those 10 students on WIHI Team 1 are selected (5 seated at the table and 1 alternate). WIHI Team 1 moves on to the semifinal. The other 4 students on the WIHI team roster can be selected by the faculty coach to participate in the semifinal as well as 2 students from the quarterfinal (again, 5 chosen to sit at the table and 1 alternate). The key point: these 10 students must be selected from the WIHI Team 1 roster submitted by the faculty coach on Monday, February 1, 2021.  

7. Coaches decide which students participate in the Ending Rounds. If a selected student, including alternates, is not available on the day of the match, no roster changes can be made.

8. 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 eligible to participate in the Ending Rounds is required and must be sent to A2Ethics organizers before the Ending Rounds begin. The deadline: Monday, February 1, 2021.  

9. The Ending Rounds are 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 OR DURING THE JUDGE QUESTION TIME to confer and coordinate responses to judge questions. 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, all students, judges, producers and moderators 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 in-person Bowl welcomes parents and community members to watch, listen and root for young people and their teams engaged in thinking of the highest caliber,  Zoom is not audience-friendly in the way that we would like spectators to experience the event. Further, gathering release forms from over 160 individuals, after consideration, 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 8 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 Ending Rounds and Match Times

1. On Saturday, February 6, 2021 the Quarterfinal matches will begin and end at these intervals:
       • 1:30pm-2:45pm
       • 3:30pm-4:45pm

2. 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 quarterfinal team will have 1 match on February 6th. The Semi and Final matches on Sunday, February 7, 2021 will begin and end at these intervals:



The quarterfina match schedule is here:

At the beginning of the quarterfinal on Saturday, February 6th, there will be a brief welcome and get together for all teams. On Sunday, February 7th, after the announcement of the 2021 Michigan Ethics Bowl Champion and winner of The Hemlock Cup, there will be a short closing celebration. 

3. 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.    

4. 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. And because of team feedback from the fall Opening Rounds, the Judge Feedback is BACK! The 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
Judge feedback: 2 minutes

5. 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. Teams are allowed to coordinate their responses to judge questions using a secondary form of communication, such as messaging or a chat app.   

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:

The Two “Tees”– Technology and Training

1. Zoom is the videoconferencing platform for 2021 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 special 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 training in delivering the Moderator Script, modified to conform to Bowl rules, including the requirements and features of Zoom relevant to their moderating role. 

The Virtual Bowl’s End

To say this academic 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.

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. The 2021 National Bowl is on schedule and online. It will take place on April 10-11, 2021.

We will all be cheering on the 2021 Michigan Ethics Bowl champions!

Even if most of our traditions are on hold, we have put in place 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 have invited each team to decide on a special theme song that represents their team. The main 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, including $150 to the winning team, was announced at the end of the Opening Rounds. The winners of the first-ever "Michigan Ethics Bowl Best Theme Song" contest: the Ypsilanti Youth team for their original song: Stuck in the Crib. For a playlist of all team songs:

2. Each student in the 2020-21 Michigan High School Ethics Bowl received a certificate affirming their participation in the first ever--Virtual One. We hope the 2020-21 Bowl…is the only one.

We have learned a lot from each other this anomalous, unparalleled, unsettled, and a first in our lifetimes year. And together,we have kept the legacy alive.    

Philosophy For All. Philosophy Forever.