In Defense Of Scholars’ Bowl

In Defense Of Scholars Bowl

Katie Ozley, Editor

Scholars’ Bowl is a competitive academic event where students challenge themselves against the clock and other county scholars to recognize or demonstrate intellectual ability in a variety of topics. This year, the Scholars’ Bowl competition was originally scheduled for February 10th, but it has been postponed indefinitely because of COVID-19 concerns. This is inconsistent with other district policies and practices, such as management of athletic events, and I believe that this is not a fair or accurate reason to not hold the Scholars’ Bowl competition and that COVID concerns are being used as an excuse to get out of the work of organizing the event.

Athletic events have continued through the pandemic, even when it was at its most severe, with minimal, if any, restrictions. People are packed together during football games without a mask in sight. Some might claim that football games are outside and therefore the risk is less. To these people, I present another point: basketball games. Basketball games are inside and even less socially distanced than football games. Again, there are no masks in sight. There was even a basketball game during the county-wide quarantine period of January 21st to 25th. If the county administration was actually concerned about COVID risks, surely they would put a stop to this virus breeding ground.

Meanwhile, academic competitions are slowly fading into obscurity. Book Olympiad, another beloved academic event, has already been discontinued with what looks like no plans to reinstate it. With this indefinite postponement of Scholars’ Bowl, I worry that a second academic event will only exist in our memories. What’s next? Math Team? Future Teachers? National Honors Society? Are academic events and organizations going to be systematically eradicated just because administrators don’t want to bother with them? 

Usually, there are no more than 30 people at any given time in a room at Scholars’ Bowl. This includes participants, judges, coaches, and parents. If parent attendance is limited, that number would be even less. Scholar’s Bowl can be easily done masked and socially distanced if needed. However, the county has no current mask policies at any schools and there is no social distancing whatsoever. Even more concerning, if a student is exposed to COVID at school, they are not required to quarantine. There is no more contact tracing. Going to a Scholars’ Bowl competition poses no more of a risk to my health than attending school every day does.

Again, I believe that the reason for the indefinite postponement of Scholars’ Bowl isn’t because of COVID concerns. It is because administrators do not see the worth in academic events. Not all students are athletically inclined. Athletics are fun and very important, and I mean them no disrespect. However, school is not about football or basketball. School is about learning and it is about academics. These academic competitions encourage students to want to learn more and to be excited about it. These events also give students who are smart and driven validation that they might not otherwise receive and allow them opportunities to interact with other students in the county that share similar interests. I would think that this would be important to our administrators, and I can’t help but ask myself why they seem to be blocking us at every turn.

I recognize that COVID is a deadly disease and that we need to take precautions. What I don’t understand is why these precautions are applied selectively. Using COVID as an excuse to get out of planning a very low-risk event while carrying on with high-risk events without any precautions invalidates people’s actual COVID concerns. It reminds me a bit of the boy who cried wolf. If more severe COVID precautions and restrictions need to be taken, I can imagine people looking back at this point. ‘They used COVID to get out of holding a Scholars’ Bowl competition’, they might say. ‘This doesn’t matter. They’re just getting out of something else’. This will put all of us in danger and make administration less trustworthy.

My friends and I look forward to Scholars’ Bowl every year. I have participated since I was in sixth grade, and I’m a senior now. I love this, and I work hard for this. Students all around the county work and study for hours to represent their schools the best they can. When I see the discrepancies between how my Scholars’ Bowl team and how athletic teams are treated, it is disheartening and makes me feel like all of my work so far has been pointless. I am angry, but mostly I am sad and I am scared that something I love will be taken from me just because others don’t see the worth in it. I feel that it is my responsibility to speak up and stand up for myself, my friends, and students all around the county. Just because people don’t buy tickets to a Scholars’ Bowl Competition doesn’t mean we are worth less. We deserve our competition. We deserve recognition. We deserve to be just as valued as athletes. Why aren’t we getting what we deserve? 



**At the time this article was written, the Scholar’s Bowl Tournament had not been rescheduled. Now, it has been rescheduled for April.**