Sunday, November 06, 2005

Quiz Night: On the Podium

One of my proudest moments in first-year law was when Adam Patenaude asked me join his quiz team. "I'm justing putting together some guys for the CLAIHR quiz night. Scott said you might be interested." "Sure," I said, "That would be fun." We both acted like it was no big deal. I protested when Adam told me he and the others liked my name "Scrimshaw" so much they were going to name our team "the Scrimshaw Tide", but he ignored me. That first year, our team had some rough patches. There was a big fight over the biggest country in Europe which boiled down to the issue of whether Russia is in Europe or not and if it is in Europe, is the part of Russia in Europe bigger than Germany? We went with Russia, the judges went with Germany. I had a personal humiliation when I pushed for the Congo as the largest country in Africa rather than the judge's pick of the Sudan. What made it worse was the team went with my answer. "He lived in Africa," said one of them. It's true, but I didn't do any surveying while I was there. Still when they announced the top five teams we were surprised we were not among them. Obviously we'd placed sixth. In Second-Year, Adam put the team together again. After consultation, he went with the name "The Scrimshaw Redemption: It's a Story of the Human Spirit". (Fortunately they had not instituted the lightning round that year, or it would have cost us points simply to get the name all down on paper.) We started much stronger. Placing in the top 3 in the first round and winning the second round. But then the tide turned. It seemed many people took exception to the lack of diversity on our team, specifically that we had no women. Also, when Margot's team won a round and we reacted appropriately, the judges reacted as though we were a group of Don Cherry poster boys. After that every call went against us, and again we placed sixth. (By inescapable inference.) We went back this year shaken. Two of our old members were out of town, unable to join us. Each of us in turn found ourselves being threatened with expulsion from the team. "Even you could be cut, Scrimshaw," Adam told me. "We've already got your name." But then Adam pulled us together. Scott's cousin came to town, a 4th-grade teacher who knew the longest river in Canada and the names of the 4 main characters on the facts of life. Another woman also agreed to be on our team. Not just any woman, but one who wasn't afraid to go to the judges and argue for our team. Round after round went by. We had a good number of right answers. We were robbed on a few. But no first place rounds. "We must be coming in second every time," said Adam. We didn't believe him until the final results were announced. "Scrimshaw III: Back in Training" in third place. Yes, the Law Review team and some other team came ahead of us. But not Talitha's team. Or any of the other 3rd-year teams. Ha. Following the triumphant performance of his team, Quiz Captain Adam Patenaude issued this statement:

As team Captain, I take full credit for our podium-placing.

Years of experimental unity-building exercises and despotic leadership have paid off in spades.

Links: CLaIHR National Sports of Canada Act
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