Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Story time!!

I have no idea why I starting thinking about this tonight. But I did. And I wanted to write about it.

During the spring semester of my last year of high school, the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) decided to hold a Knowledge Bowl. Two levels, grades 7 & 8 and grades 9-12. Participants would be broken into groups of 3. A series of preliminary matches (2 teams head-to-head, 3 minute matches) would pit the two highest scoring teams against each other in the final. Scoring was +20 for a correct answer, -25 for a wrong answer.

But here was the best part. The Knowledge Bowl organizers, whom were also high-ranking officers in the PTO, rigged the teams. They put their own kids on teams, together. Giving them an unfair advantage against the rest of the field. One stacked team at each level was supposed to waltz to the Championship. Kind of like the New York Yankees.

Even better than that. The organizers stated that the purpose of the Knowledge Bowl was to create an arena of academic competition. Give the non-athletes a chance to face off, show their stuff, and win something. Sports were huge at my school. Athletes were at the top of the social ladder. These ringers were not athletic. Not even close. They didn't go out for any teams. And it's not like there wasn't room for them. In some sports, we'd go four squads deep to let everyone who tried out participate. These ringers were one-dimensional. They were smart, and that's about it.

Being wise to the whole thing, and maybe a little paranoid, I openly accused the organizers of rigging the whole thing. I doubt anyone listened. But I was damn right about that. Too many coincidences. The team designations were not decided by random chance.

And it almost worked.

I didn't pay much attention to Junior High competition. The ringer team won. I was too anxious to care, really. I wanted my crack at the stage.

At the high school level, there were 8 teams. I was captain of Team H, consisting of myself, Joel Martinez, and Spencer Mawhar. We were pulling answers out of our asses and nailing the questions. We scored the most points of any team in the first round with 480. Top seed. Our opponent for the final? That's right, the ringers. Dave Bellknap (Team captain, fellow senior, friend, and beneficiary of the "randomly decided teams"), Veronica Jensen (junior ringer), and Sean Cummings (freshman ringer).

We did not get off to a hot start in the final. We missed a few questions early in the round, and our opponents took advantage and moved out to a big lead. But we fought back. Pulled in close. I tried to keep a mental tally of the score as the round progressed, but I was a little too nervous to keep track. Then that next question came. In fact, it was the last question. The bell indicating the end of the round rang about 3 words into the question. What amendment established the separation of church and state? As soon as heard those last three words, I buzzed in. Answered "the first amendment." The round was over. I shot out of my chair immediately, dancing in place like I had to go to the bathroom, waiting the hear the results.

200 to 195. That last correct answer gave us the Championship.

Not only had we won the Knowledge Bowl, but we foiled the organizers' attempts to rig the whole thing and give the win to their kids.

A few weeks later at the year-end academic award ceremony, I went on stage to get my Knowledge Bowl trophy and raised it high above my head. I talked smack to everyone who lost. Even more to those who didn't participate (one of which turned out to be our valedictorian). And I gladly spent my $25 gift certificate on music, not books.

Sadly enough, they never held another Knowledge Bowl. I would have like to seen my teammates Joel and Spencer go back and win a second one. But I guess that's what happens when you beat the system.

No comments:

All page content ©PFritz21.NET 2004-2010