14 Bowl Competitions to Look For if Football’s Not For You
By Arika Okrent
The Super Bowl is the biggest bowl game there is, but it’s not the only one. Ever since the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association built a stadium called the Rose Bowl and started calling their annual college football game after it in the 1920s, bowl became a generic term for post-season football games. From the Cactus Bowl to the Pinstripe Bowl to the Idaho Potato Bowl, a football fan has plenty of bowls to choose from.
But bowl has moved on from being a football-specific term and now refers to many types of team competitions where brain power is the only offense required. Here are 14 bowls in specific areas where the competition is fierce, but easier on the knees.
1. ETHICS BOWL
A few weeks after the Super Bowl, teams of college students will gather to answer ethics questions at the Twentieth Ethics Bowl Nationals. According to the Ethics Bowl guidelines, the questions “may concern ethical problems on wide ranging topics, such as the classroom (e.g. cheating or plagiarism), personal relationships (e.g. dating or friendship), professional ethics (e.g. engineering, law, medicine) or social and political ethics (e.g. free speech, gun control, etc.).” The answers are rated on “intelligibility, focus on ethically relevant considerations, avoidance of ethical irrelevance, and deliberative thoughtfulness.”
2. HISTORY BOWL
The National History Bowl, started in 2010 by 19-time Jeopardy! champ David Madden, will take place in April. Teams of students high school aged and younger will answer tough questions about various eras and places. According to the rules, there is no lower age limit: “a brilliant and well-behaved 8-year-old is welcome to compete.”
3. SCIENCE BOWL
At the end of April, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Science Bowl will challenge teams of Middle and High Schoolers with a rapid-fire question-and-answer competition on “a range of science disciplines including biology, chemistry, Earth science, physics, energy, and math." The Science Bowl has been going since 1991.
4. TRAFFIC BOWL
The Institute of Transportation Engineers runs the Traffic Bowl, where college students compete on their knowledge and problem-solving skills in transportation planning and engineering. The championship has been held since 2010 and takes place in August.
5. OCEAN SCIENCES BOWL
The mission of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl is to address “a national gap in environmental and earth sciences in public education by introducing high school students to and engaging them in ocean science” because “ocean science is not a course generally offered at the high school level." The April competition, held since 1998, brings together the winners of gloriously-named regional competitions such as the Sturgeon Bowl, the Sea Lion Bowl, and the Blue Crab Bowl.
6. DATA SCIENCE BOWL
Data scientists and statisticians are already hard at work on the Second Annual Data Science Bowl. The challenge for this year's contest is to come up with the best solution to “automatically measure end-systolic and end-diastolic volumes in cardiac MRIs.” Anyone over the age of 18 can compete, and there are big cash prizes—but you have to have your algorithm ready by March 14.
7. PUBLIC HEALTH SCHOLAR BOWL
Colleges with programs in health science send teams of students to compete in the Public Health Scholar Bowl in April. There is a quiz bowl question-and-answer competition as well as a case study where teams have two weeks to come up with a solution to a specific public health problem.
8. JAPAN BOWL
The National Japan Bowl has been hosted by the Japan-America Society since 1992. Held in April, it tests teams of high school students on their knowledge of Japanese language and culture. The winning team gets a trip to Japan.
9. BIBLE BOWL
The National Bible Bowl, as seen on TLC, began in 1963. There is a division for beginners (3rd-5th grade) and teens (6th-12th grade) to show off their Bible knowledge.
10. MEAT SCIENCE BOWL
The Association for Meat Science hosts a Meat Science Quiz Bowl at its annual Reciprocal Meat Conference in June. Undergraduates answer questions about musculature and anatomy, food safety, and history and current events related to meat science.
11. SPUTUM BOWL
The American Association for Respiratory Care knows a lot about sputum—as well as other things related to respiratory issues. Students and practitioners of respiratory care get a chance to show off their expertise at the Sputum Bowl, held at the association’s annual conference since the late 1970s.
12. WORLD GEOGRAPHY BOWL
Graduate and undergraduate students who really know the world get to compete at the World Geography Bowl, held at the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers since 1993.
13. MATERIALS BOWL
The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society promotes “the global science and engineering professions concerned with minerals, metals and materials.” They also host a student Materials Bowl at their annual meeting.
14. AVIAN BOWL
The National 4-H Poultry and Egg Conference has hosted the Avian Bowl since 1989. Competing youth teams face questions about poultry breeds, embryology, egg and poultry markets, and avian influenza.