NSML Emergencies

Guiding Principles and General

See the League’s philosophy statement for our guiding principles.

Rescheduling a meet is not possible; delaying the announcement of results at the conference meet is not practical. As fairness cannot be served with substitute questions, all make-up questions must be the same as the actual competition.

In handling emergencies, the league needs to balance the integrity of the contest with the participation of the students. Too much flexibility provides a greater opportunity for unethical behavior. Too little flexibility penalizes students for circumstances beyond their control.

This policy is for situations where normal participation is not physically possible, or where concern for the safety of students and coaches prevents normal participation. It is imperative that all schools submit accurate contact information to the league so that in the event of an emergency, schools can contact one another and can be contacted by the president.

Any decision made under these rules is subject to review by the president and the board. These rules must be revisited after any significant application, particularly if parts of a contest are taken after the scheduled date, with special attention to any statistical anomalies.

Any school making habitual or apparently abusive use of this policy may be subject to sanctions at the discretion of the board.


Orals can be made up by video submission. Ideally the oralist will make a recording of their presentation the night of the event. All orals must be made up by the end of Friday, the week of the meet. The president will make arrangements for scoring.

A school is only eligible to make up the oral if they are also eligible to make up at least one of the two rounds of written competition.

Coaches should direct oralists to avoid any improper contact with oralists who have taken the contest and should emphasize the importance of integrity to the oralist.

Particular Situations

Original NSML rules had a protocol for many eventualities. The ubiquity of cell phones and email makes managing unexpected situations easier.

  • The league president is in charge of problem-solving.
  • If a school is unhappy with the president’s resolution, they may appeal to the board of directors.
  • If there is a problem, contact the host school and try to deal with it locally.
  • If the problem makes it impossible for your school to compete at the planned location on the planned day, contact the president.
  • The integrity of the contest is an important consideration. This means taking contests after other contestants have finished is very undesirable.

Parameters for problem solving:

  • Orals should occur the night of the contest. See above.
  • Delays of less than 30 minutes are easy. The host school texts the league president and their meet runs on a slightly altered schedule.
  • Longer delays should involve a conversation with the president.
  • Competing remotely must be approved by the president. The board must be notified.
  • Taking the exam at a later date requires communication with the president and board approval. Discuss the circumstances with the president. The sooner the better. One important question is: “Is it possible to make up the contest on the next school day?”
  • All make-up competitions must be completed within three school days of the contest.
  • Under no circumstances are the contests permitted to be given early.

Coaches should direct students to avoid any improper contact with students who have taken the contest and should emphasize the importance of integrity to students taking the make-up competition.

List of circumstances from the detailed regulations:

  • School unable to get to site, stuck on the way to site. (Make-up.)
  • School unable to get to site, stuck at home. (Remote contest, same night.)
  • School arrives significantly late to site. (Delay, complete as much as possible the night of the event. Possible make-up.)
  • Host school unable to host. (Immediately contact the president.)

Other special circumstances:

Participation forbidden by administration

Immediately contact the president, who will manage the details. Compete remotely on the night of the meet if possible. Otherwise the president and/or board of directors will need to approve taking the exam on the next school day. Taking the exam later than that is unlikely to be approved.

Meet cancelled by administration

Immediately contact the president, who will manage the details. Schools scheduled to compete at that site have an obligation to attempt to find an alternate site.

Interruption of meet in progress

The host school should attempt to preserve and continue any event already started (running for more than five minutes), as these cannot reasonably be made up. Any part(s) of the meet either not held or interrupted within the first five minutes can be made up in accordance with the “school unable to get to site, stuck at home” rules. Contact the president when the chaos allows.

Conference Meet

In the event that the conference meet cannot be held as scheduled due to hosting issues or prevailing conditions, or that more than one third of the schools in the league are not in attendance, schools not attending the meet will be permitted to take the contest following the “school unable to get to site, stuck at home” rules. Results will be announced one week after the scheduled conference meet, with small awards to be mailed or shipped and large awards to be picked up by the recipients.

If results are not delayed as specified above, any schools not in attendance will receive a score of zero for the meet. Results will be announced and awards will be given at the conference meet as usual. Schools not in attendance may appeal to the board through the president to be allowed to make up the meet as specified in the “school unable to get to site, stuck at home” rules, and duplicate awards may be issued at the discretion of the board.