Last weekend the Taylor University Ethics Bowl team, which I coach, won the national championship in Costa Mesa, California.  Ethics Bowl is an intercollegiate moral issues debate competition, in which hundreds of schools participate nationwide. Taylor has been participating since the late 1990s, and our team has won numerous regional championships, and in recent years we’ve been doing increasingly well at nationals. Two years ago we advanced to the finals, only to be edged by one point in the IMG_1313championship match. But last weekend we took that final step, winning our first national championship in a very close match against Whitworth University (a superb team and one of the most consistently strong teams in the country).

Our team won all three qualifying matches (against Duke University, Santa Clara University and Texas Pan American). Then we defeated Villanova University in the quarterfinals and Indiana University in the semi-finals, culminating in the showdown against Whitworth University.

The competition took place at the Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa, California. As usual, 32 teams participated, all having qualified by finishing among the top teams in their region. There are ten regions nationwide, and ours is the Central States region, which features some of the best teams in the nation, including former national champions Indiana University (2004 and 2009), Wright State University (2002), and DePauw University (2013).

The topics debated at nationals were the following (two cases covered per match):

  • Unpaid internships
  • The use of ancient artifacts (Roman lead ingots) for scientific purposes
  • “Prescriptive planting” farming technology
  • The killing of civilians in war
  • Parental rights of rapists
  • Fracking
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Minimum wage
  • Horse slaughterhouses
  • Stealth (undercover) journalism
  • Media use of “crowdsourcing”
  • Transgendered people and public bathrooms

The Taylor team roster:

  • Jess Biermann (Senior, Philosophy)
  • Nathaniel Cullen (Senior, Philosophy and Environmental Studies)
  • Kasey Leander (Junior, Political Science, Philosophy, and Economics)
  • Davis Meadors (Senior, Philosophy)
  • Caleb Nagle (Senior, Political Science)
  • Mark Taylor (Senior, Philosophy)
  • Veronica Toth (Junior, English)

And non-roster Ethics Bowlers who were on the Fall regionals team and made the trip to nationals, supporting the team in various ways:

  • Kyle Carruthers (Senior, Professional Writing)
  • Lydia Grace Espiritu (Senior, Philosophy)

Katie Duncan is my assistant coach, and she led the team while I was on sabbatical in the Fall when the team qualified for nationals by finishing second at regionals.

We couldn’t be happier for the students, as they worked like crazy for the last two months and performed brilliantly all day during the competition.  It’s an amazing bunch.  For the seniors, they’ve made it to two finals in three years, and now they’ve won a national championship.

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 Responses to “National Champions!”

  1. Kyle Holloway


    Brilliant! What an incredible accomplishment… congratulations to you and the team!

  2. Marc Oliver


    What an awesome achievement for all of you. Those are some very thorny topics. Hailing from Eastern Oregon, I’d be very interested to hear the ‘Horse slaughterhose’ debate. I’d also be interested to know if they’ve done the ‘Reintroduction of wolves’ topic?


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