Why Good Contesting is R.A.R.E.

I anticipate that as this blog develops, there will be multiple posts on the topic of contesting. In an effort to eat this particular elephant one bite at a time, I will start with a general overview of the contest presentation. In future posts we will tackle issues like determining when to contest, rules interpretation, and responses.

To make this post more lively, I’ve decided to do it as an acronym. Why? Because good contesting is RARE.


Every good contest starts with a rule that is the basis for such a contest. There are three sub-types to keep in mind: validity, rules violation, and additional Scripture. Each type has a specific set of rules to cite. For validity, you should start with page 24, and find specific rules relating to questions on the subsequent pages. For additional Scripture, start with the top of page 22, then move on to your argument. For others, the rules citation will vary with the situation, so become as familiar with the rules as possible. Pages 16-17 are usually a good place to start. Be sure to tell the officials which rule you are reading, and give them an opportunity to look it up if they wish. Some officials won’t look it up, as they are very familiar with the rules. Don’t be offended if they don’t, but always give them the chance.


After citing a rule, it’s time to make an argument. Generally, try to keep it as simple as possible. Read the applicable Scripture, and inform the officials of what happened. A few “don’ts” to go with this:

  • Don’t make the officials feel as though they are stupid or cheaters.
  • Don’t go out of your way to be mean to the other team.
  • Don’t lose your cool.

The argument is where you win or lose the contest, so be as clear as possible. I like to use examples. I also like to use a little humor, but be careful to not be seen as mocking or irreverent.


Clearly tell the officials what you want to happen. Ask them to void the question and read the substitute for both teams. Ask them to rule your quizzer correct. Ask them to consult the Scripture and verify the answer on their page. Some contests get so convoluted that the judges will deny them because they don’t know how to deal with the issue. Tell them what you want them to do.


Thank the officials and sit down. Try to keep it pithy, and don’t over-explain. Remember, officials don’t like to be treated like morons any more than you do.

Well, that’s the start of it. Contesting is not an exact science, and requires work to master, just like quizzing. Study the rules, watch other good contesters, and keep a positive attitude. This is an important skill for coaches to have, and it can make all the difference in your team’s success.