I have been to tournaments where the questions were handed out in advance--about a half hour before the matches started--and people did not think anything of it. If you are going to have the coaches moderate anyways, then it does not make that big a difference.
For one thing, coaches are ethical enough not to just show their teams the questions ahead of time. I know this because my team consistently beats teams that, had they made some effort to make sure they were not being seen, could have cheated. We are not good enough to beat teams that have seen the questions beforehand.
Furthermore, if a coach wants to look ahead at the questions and decide substitutions based on them, it takes less than two seconds. If the next tossup answer is Crime And Punishment, then you can put in the students that have the best chance to answer it without studying every word of the question in great detail. I don't understand what useful information you could learn by reading the questions for thirty minutes that you could not learn by reading the questions for thirty seconds.
Because Illinois has definite category distributions and the category is announced before each question, it is common for coaches to make substitutions near the end of the match based on what categories are left. This is often done without the coach having access to the questions, and nobody thinks anything of it.
This thread does not have to become a trainwreck. A team just hosted their first tournament ever. They wrote the questions themselves and put some thought into a creative format. Some of the things they did were well received and some of them were not, which surprises nobody who uses this board or has ever been to a tournament run by somebody new to hosting. They did nothing that was 'unethical' in the most basic meaning of that word.
I am reading five criticisms here.
1) The questions varied in quality, including some good ones and some bad ones. Nothing new here and nothing unethical. (I personally have not seen the questions, and my team was not there.)
2) There were runs of questions from the same category. Most people, including me, don't like that, but the matches overall were balanced and it's not the end of the world.
3) There was some repeated information in the questions. Everybody knows this is bad, but it has nothing to do with ethics and certainly is not unique to this tournament. The question writers were young and new, they have accepted the complaints regarding questions, and my guess is that their standards were still higher than the standards of most adults who write questions for Illinois teams.
4) #1 played #3 in the semifinals. This is generally a bad idea, and not announcing it beforehand also is a bad idea, and IHSSBCA includes this case in its Ethics Guidelines, but I don't think that anybody is claiming that this mistake was made because NC or its coach is unethical. The reason the guideline is included in our Ethics document is because teams that are not explicit or do things out of the ordinary often get accused of being unethical. The host usually fields a team, and people often suspect things are rearranged to help the host, but in this case the host did not field a team.
5) The questions were given out beforehand. This obviously wasn't done to gain an unfair advantage, since the host wrote the questions and didn't have a team in the field. Some people claim that such actions could lead to unethical actions by other teams, but I personally am dubious. At any rate, you had a first-time host copying a practice employed by some long-time hosts. It's fine for people to state that they dislike the practice or that they think NC made a mistake here, but let's not pretend this is a moral crisis.
When I go to a new tournament with new writers, I hope that the building is unlocked and the questions are completed before the tournament. From what I hear, NC went well beyond that standard. I hope they had a good experience, and I hope their tournament becomes annual and grows.
PACE VP of Outreach, Head Writer and Editor for Scobol Solo and Masonics (Illinois), TD for New Trier Scobol Solo and New Trier Varsity, Writer for NAQT (2011-2017), IHSSBCA Board Member, IHSSBCA Chair (2004-2014), PACE Member, PACE President (2016-2018), New Trier Coach (1994-2011)