Many look forward to this month because it is a welcomed return of spring. But for college basketball enthusiasts, the excitement stems from the arrival of March Madness.
This year Olivet’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes is joining the craze with its own “Beat the Bowling” challenge.
“The challenge consists of predicting which college will make it through each stage of the competition and win the final game,” said sophomore Jeff Hawkins, one of the leaders of FCA. “Students write the teams they believe will go through on a bracket they’ve bought – the brackets are then handed back to us to determine a winner.”
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) basketball tournament is renowned for bringing out those who like to make predictions on games. Sporting networks such as ESPN have made the tournament, known to many as “March Madness,” a popular part of the supporter’s experience. Competitions allow college basketball fans to guess who will win games throughout the tournament and who will be crowned the NCAA champion on Monday, April 4.
Because of its popularity and tie with sports, the FCA leaders decided to use March Madness for their own benefit while also creating something fun for students on campus, FCA leader Joel Kline, senior, said.
FCA is an international ministry for athletes. An outreach program in their ministry is a fellowship group called a “huddle.” There are huddles at schools all across the nation, but Olivet’s huddle focuses on developing the spiritual life of ONU athletes. The “Beat the Bowling” challenge is a fundraiser for the ministry, but it is also a way of getting the ministry’s name out around campus.
University President, Dr. John Bowling is involved with the competition and has made his own predictions about the outcome of the tournament.
“I really like March Madness and the whole tournament,” he said. “It showcases some great basketball and is always filled with some unexpected wins and losses.”
Hawkins asked Bowling to participate in the competition and showcased a video in chapel promoting the event. Hawkins said the money students used to buy brackets are donations to benefit various FCA events.
“I think anything we can do to support FCA is important,” Bowling said.
Student are enthusiastic about “Beat the Bowling.”
“I am really excited to see how well my brackets match up against the real results of the tournament,” freshman Landon Williams said. “I watch my favorite team, the Ohio State Buckeyes, in every round of March Madness.”
If it is successful, FCA will host another “Beat the Bowling” next year. This year there is a prize worth $50 for the winner.