By Dylam Dellisanti ’14
Last year, Hampden-Sydney’s Ethics Bowl team won its first championship after a victory in the final round over Sweet Briar College. The victory added meaning to the phrase, “third time’s the charm.” As in the previous two tournaments, Hampden-Sydney College had been defeated in the final round. Coming into the 2013 Ethics Bowl, held the weekend of February 10th, the team hoped to secure a second straight title.
Although expectations for the team were high, team coordinator Dr. Marc Hight kept his cool, saying that his only expectations were that the team should “work hard and perform well,” with victory simply being a byproduct of their performance. Dr. Hight was also confident that he had a strong team, lead by senior Christopher Deen, accompanied by Baker Allen ’14, Ryan Rivas ’15, and the addition of freshman Will Brantley.
Baker Allen was especially excited about the opportunity to compete again at the Ethics Bowl. Last year’s victory led Mr. Allen to realize that the team was “…expected to perform at a higher standard,” and he, on the team, worked arduously throughout the semester to ensure that they represented Hampden-Sydney College in the most fitting way: as gentlemen and as champions. Dr. Hight added that the team met at least three days a week for 90 minutes at a time to prepare. They were aided during practice by co-coordinator Dr. James Janowski as well as the Union-Philanthropic Literary Society, who fielded a team for them to practice against.
The subject of the 2013 Ethics Bowl, which was held at Randolph College in Lynchburg, was the “ethics of social media.” Throughout the tournament, the team held strong to a consistent message of personal responsibility and civility. This consistency allowed the team to make dynamic and nuanced arguments in light of the fact that each debate topic was left unknown until the start of the debate.
The final round pitted our team up against long-time rival, Washington and Lee. Like Hampden-Sydney, the Washington and Lee team was also well prepared and had been having a strong performance throughout the tournament. However, Hampden-Sydney’s consistent message allowed them to have the edge. While both teams took up the same position, Hampden-Sydney came through victorious because their argument stood on stronger foundations, which led them to a better conclusion. Dr. Hight remarked that the team “performed brilliantly.” Moreover, he was pleased not simply with the team’s ability to use sound moral reasoning, but also in their ability to deliver arguments that are persuasive to a group of judges who were mainly from the business world. Making rhetorically appealing arguments can be a difficult task for intelligent students who have grown accustomed to making arguments directed toward their professors in the academic realm.
Overall, the team of Deen, Allen, Rivas, and Brantley displayed great teamwork, reflecting their preparation and dedication to moral reasoning. The team looks forward to the 2014 Ethics Bowl where they will attempt to win a third straight championship and continue to put Hampden-Sydney’s academic achievements on the map.