Scholastic Bowl, a competition where society teams compete against each other in areas of general knowledge, has been an annual event at Bob Jones University since 1985, which means this year, specifically today, marks the start of its 30th anniversary competition.
Schol Bowl is an opportunity for students to take the knowledge they’ve learned in the comfort of the classroom and display it in a competitive setting. “It gives students who have a wide range of knowledge the opportunity to put that to practice,” said Dr. Renae Wentworth, dean of BJU’s College of Arts and Science. But Schol Bowl is also intended to be fun for the competitors and entertainment for the audience.
Although societies are no longer required to participate, 14 teams have signed up for this competition, a component of the Society of the Year award.
Before the start of Schol Bowl, BJU used to hold university debates during commencement week. But 30 years ago Dr. Bob Jones III, then president of BJU, decided to replace these debates with a contest that would be more interesting for the competitors and the audience. At the time, Dr. John Matzko, chair of the Division of Social Sciences at BJU, agreed to compile a list of questions for the competition and has continued to do so for the past three decades.
Each competition consists of 130 questions from various areas of study, and the questions for each round are unique. Writing questions for Schol Bowl is difficult because students with a general education should have the knowledge to answer them. Questions are reused every five years, but each year the questions are tweaked because facts are constantly changing. Additionally, if students cannot guess an answer, that question is discarded.
Although Schol Bowl is more about the experience than winning, several strategies can help guide a team toward success. Matzko has witnessed that balanced teams with competitors studying in a variety of majors and having a variety of strengths tend to be successful teams.
In addition, Wentworth said nerves of steel, good listening skills, the ability to anticipate a question, the courage to take risks and most of all, to have fun, are all good qualities to have for this competition.
Even though Schol Bowl is a contest, competitors can learn important life lessons while they participate. Wentworth said Schol Bowl teaches students to do their best, accomplish what they can with their God-given gifts and act gracefully, whether they win or lose.
“Life is full of competition,” Wentworth said. “In life you don’t always win, you don’t always achieve what you’ve set out to achieve.”
Both Wentworth and Matzko said they look forward to watching the students compete in Schol Bowl. Matzko enjoys seeing what the students know and don’t know. “I get surprised every time,” Matzko said.
And, if you’ve had Dr. Wentworth as a teacher, be sure to answer your English questions correctly; she’ll be paying close attention.