Students compete in Houston High School Ethics Bowl tournament

Ethan Kinsella, Staff Writer

On Feb. 1, junior Ado Ibori entered the Humanities building at Rice University prepared to cheer on his friends in the Houston High School Ethics Bowl. Ibori had no idea that by the time he walked out, he would be a member of the team. 

Ibori and five fellow juniors participated in the Ethics Bowl, an annual tournament in which teams from Houston high schools consider ethical dilemmas and propose appropriate responses. 

While a member of the Ethics Bowl club, Ibori was not originally selected for the competing team. Before the team’s second match, however, club sponsor Tav Tavakoli told Ibori that he would be allowed to participate in the tournament.

“It was difficult to fit into the dynamic, because I hadn’t rehearsed with them beforehand,” Ibori said. “Despite that, I was able to make significant contributions to the discussion.”

To prepare for the tournament, the team held biweekly meetings to establish their ethical position on 15 detailed case studies. As the Rice tournament drew closer, each member of the club participated in preparations as the club was divided into two competing groups to skirmish.

“We did a lot of scrimaging, two-on-two with one moderator, and it was really fun,” junior Henry Miller said.

At the tournament, the team played three matches against Westwood High School, Awty International School and Cesar Chavez High School. Since the team lost two out of three of their matches in the tournament, they will not go on to compete nationally. 

Despite their loss, the team believes adapting to the tournament was informative and fun.

“Even learning how to do it properly in our match against Westwood was fun,” Miller said. “After all the slip-ups, it was fun talking through how we could have done it better.”

In matches, Ethics Bowl teams try to strengthen their opponent’s position rather than scrutinize it. According to Tavakoli, a former sponsor of the speech and debate team at the Village School, the club is meant to create a calm, cooperative discourse rather than a hostile one.

“Ethics Bowl forces people to examine their own biases, to listen to what others have to say and to address the concerns of other people,” Tavakoli said.

In previous years, the team had been dominated by seniors. This year, for the first time, the team was entirely comprised of juniors. 

Next year, SJS will bring two teams to the tournament, allowing some of the club members who could not attend this year to participate. Though the team has finished competing for the year, it will continue to meet during lunch to discuss ethics and philosophy. 

“Even though we have a short amount of time to meet, the team does its best,” Tavakoli said. “I’m proud and impressed that everybody comes together consistently. It seems to be a priority for people.”