Those who are familiar with basketball will have heard of March Madness, an event where 68 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I basketball teams play in single-elimination tournaments. The teams compete in seven rounds for the national championship. March Madness started in 1939 with only eight teams, with Oregon beating Ohio State 46–33.
This year, a new kind of tournament has taken over university and college campuses across Canada and the United States called March Goodness. Students, professors, alumni, and people in the community from one campus compete against other campuses by performing good deeds for others. This competitive kindness tournament is a campaign by Derek Anderson’s — former Kentucky Wildcats NCAA champ and Miami Heat NBA champ — Stamina Foundation and xocial (an organization and online community that encourages people to take part in competitive kindness). Schools compete for social good points and the campus with the most points will get a donation to their school and all sorts of prizes as well.
March Goodness is conveniently at the same time as March Madness, which was a purposeful decision. Xocial wanted to have have kindness brackets and encourage students to “dribble” acts of kindness and “slam dunk” on relevant issues. Individual students can also earn scholarships by performing kind acts, such as feeding the homeless, volunteering, donating blood, paying it forward (such as by buying someone else coffee), calling their parents, discussing issues such as gun control, or spending time with their pet. Each type of good deed is worth a different number of xocial points (xp) and students can rack up points by writing about their good deed on xocial.
According to xocial’s Ken Bentham, there are five scholarships, each worth $2,500, that are available to be won by individual students. A student with one of the highest xp scores will win one of the scholarships. The other four will be given to random students who have racked up at least 500 points. The college or university that wins the campaign will be given $2,000 as well.
Xocial wants to dispel the myth that basketball players should “shut up and dribble,” which was said to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James by journalist Laura Ingraham after he commented on Donald Trump’s behaviour as president during an interview. They chose to partner with Anderson and his Acts of Kindness movement as he is an example of an athlete who uses his platform and fame to make a difference in the world around him. Him being a former player for the Kentucky Wildcats is cool too, as the team is a recurring March Madness favourite.
Multiple Canadian universities have entered the campaign, with McMaster University, Carleton University, University of Windsor, and Brock University making the xocial 16. Although Simon Fraser University did not make the top 16, Renika Bilin — our campus ambassador — is amazing, in the words of Bentham, and has made such a great effort in being kind and doing good deeds on behalf of SFU. She earned xp by raising money for causes such as HIV/AIDS prevention, Pens for Poverty and women’s groups as part of a club called Students for Humanity. She is also currently working on a project to raise money for Parkinson’s disease. To help her campaign, she set up booths during peak times at school and worked with other clubs to boost xp. Bilin believes that March Goodness is an awesome way to encourage students to participate in positive social change on university and college campuses. They are having conversations about how to make campus life healthier and a more comfortable environment. To her, and probably many other students, March Goodness is a reminder that positivity can go a long way.
In the midst of March Madness, and life in general, it is always good to see people making a conscious effort to increase positivity. With xocial’s and Anderson’s movement, this is certainly taking place, and is a example of how sports are much more than just athletics.
If you want to get involved, check out the link here: www.marchgoodness.net