Last Thursday the Taylor University Ethics Bowl team, which I coach, finished in second place at the national Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl Competition in San Antonio, Texas. This is our best finish ever and our second consecutive year to make it to the “elite eight.”
Our road to the final was not easy, as we had to defeat last year’s champion, Whitworth University, in the semi-final match. In the championship match we faced DePauw University, a team with whom we are very familiar, having faced them many times before in our Central States Regional competitions. Like Taylor, DePauw is a liberal arts college from Indiana. It was an exciting match, as the Wyndham Hotel ballroom was packed, and the cases debated were highly controversial—illegal immigration and active euthanasia. Both teams did brilliant work articulating
and defending their views, and the judges were divided as to who the winner should be. In the end, DePauw prevailed by the narrowest of margins: 154-153. Congratulations to the DePauw University team!
The issues debated during the course of the day’s competition concerned such topics as pre-natal genetic testing, protest tactics used by animal rights groups, art museums’ use of stolen art, and a novel technological approach to combating global warming. Each year the fifteen national tournament cases are posted in mid-January, so teams have about six weeks to prepare. However, the questions posed are not known until match time, so teams must know their cases thoroughly and be prepared to address the many ethical dimensions of each case.
Other schools that competed included Colgate University, Villanova University, Loyola University Chicago, University of Oklahoma, Georgetown University, Utah State University, Maryland University, University of North Florida, the U.S. Naval Academy and twenty others.
Our team included Tom Weingartner (Senior), Sarah Sawicki (Senior), Suzanne Neefus (Junior), Nathaniel Cullen (Sophomore), Mark Taylor (Sophomore), Jess Biermann (Sophomore), Kasey Leander (Freshman), and Veronica Toth (Freshman). And my assistant coach is Cathy Kerton-Johnson. Ours is a relatively young team, so Cathy and I are looking forward to having another strong squad next year. Of course, the outcome of these competitions is not as important as the qualities that Ethics Bowl develops in the students, including ethical reasoning abilities, public communication skills, and a deeper moral seriousness. So like athletics, Ethics Bowl is a means to the end of character formation, rather than an end in itself. But the competition really is a great motivator and a lot of fun!