Thursday, April 16, 2020
***HAPPY BIRTHDAY SON!!!***
Issue # 25.4 "25 Years: The Charities" [ 1-Entries | 2-Teams | 3-Confs ]
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SAFER-AT-HOME, CA (smt)- Well, they cancelled the tournament. But they can't cancel our good will. For the 10th straight year, the HWCI NCAA First Four for Charity asked pool friends to reply back with quick answers to enter this free contest where I would donate $2 per entry to a worthy charity or cause. This year, due to the extreme times we live in, was coronavirus-related and picked Direct Relief since they had a dedicated COVID-19 fund to donate directly to. Direct Relief is coordinating with public health authorities, nonprofit organizations and businesses in the U.S. and globally to provide personal protective equipment and essential medical items to health workers responding to coronavirus.
Because there was no tournament, this year the question was "Who would you have picked to win the tournament?" instead of the usual First Four winners and margin of victory. We did get 20 responses back and although we didn't hit my stated target goal of 25 entries, I still will add in $25 for a total of $65. Michael W and a very kind-hearted friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) will separately donate (since there is no pool, no sense for me to be the middle-man to collect funds) and add a combined $260 for a grand total of $325, our second highest donation-ever, after last year's $460 to the Boys and Girls Club of America. How did we get here? Here is another 25 Year retrospective, this time on our HWCI NCAA First Four for Charity contest.
Curse the NCAA and their greed! In '11, there were going to be 68 teams (instead of 65) but instead of the worst 8 conferences playing for the four games, it would be just four, and the other four would be the last four at-large berths. This meant that we went from a "don't care" for Tuesday (didn't matter who won #64/#65 Opening Round, every sane person would pick them to lose) to how do we deal with the 2 games featuring at-large teams on Tuesday/Wednesday? Surely, #11-#13 teams have won before and people could pick them depending which team won. Do we make them pick these First Four games by Tuesday? No, not feasible. We would just allow people to change their picks if they wanted after the First Four games. Luckily, not many people did so it wasn't a big logistical nightmare we thought (100 people suddenly changing their picks Wed night/Thu morning).
But we have these extra games. How do we make it somewhat meaningful? Then 3/11 happened, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the northeastern coast of Japan and devastated the country with its quake and tsunamis. This was two days before Selection Sunday. So I devised a free contest and wanted to help people in Japan. Chose the American Red Cross who we all recognized. Called it the "First Four for Charity". Said I'd donate $1 per entry. It was Monday afternoon though and the First Four started 3:30 pm PDT Tuesday. Didn't know what to expect. But we got 30 entries (still a record) and other people donated $26 via check/cash/PayPal. Seeing the kindness, I added an extra $44 to make it an even $100 donation to the American Red Cross.
In total, HWCI NCAA has contributed $1,483.08 to 10 charities ($148.31 avg) with a high of $460 in '19 and a low of $56 in '18. Friends of the pool have contributed an average of $98.61 per year ($986.10 total) with a high of $410 in '18 (includes the $230 match by my company, Raytheon, now Raytheon Technologies as of Apr 3) and a low of $25 in '14. But having anything greater than $0 from others always warms my heart. The largest donor is our anonymous one this year with $250. Anyone someone offers a tip or keep the change when paying, I always add it to the charity. That is why I don't make the donation until mid-to-late April. Last year we had some winners donate a portion or all of the winnings to the charity so you never know when the pot will grow. Except for this year (where I told others to donate on their own but let me know how much), I combine all the donated money into one payment to the charity and I pdf and post the receipt every year.
Ironically, we have not had another March disaster until this year's COVID-19 pandemic. There have been plenty of big events (hurricanes (Sandy Oct '12, Irma Sep '17, Maria Sep '17, Harvey Aug '17), earthquakes (Nepal late-Apr '15, Palu Sep '18), tornadoes (Joplin tornado May '11, Super Outbreak tornadoes late-Apr '11), terrorist attack in Paris (Nov '15), Orlando nightclub shooting (Jun '16), Boston Marathon bomber (mid-Apr '13)) but none occurring at the time of the tournament. So we've come full circle, unfortunately.
For the 10 charities, I have tried to alternate between humanitarian and community organizations or groups. Those helping the better good for society include the aforementioned American Red Cross and Direct Relief organizations, Dr. Susan Love Foundation (breast cancer research) ('15), and World Vision (Christian humanitarian) ('18). Those that are personal to me include American Cancer Society Relay for Life (our team) ('12), Friends of Renee (fighting Lyme Disease, which affected one our pool participant's (Eric F) friend) ('14), and IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference which I have been involved with for years ('17). Those helping our youth include MathCounts (math programs for grades 6th-8th) ('13), Star Wars: Force for Change (STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skills for kids) ('16), and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (empower kids and teens) ('19).
I am always soliciting ideas for charities or worthwhile organizations to put our donations to. Neil O pitched the idea for World Vision and Eric F pitched Friends of Renee. I consulted with Vi P, who is in the public health field, to decide on Direct Relief.
This year, we got 20 entries and 13 teams were picked to win it all. Kansas was #1 but only picked by 3 people. In fact, the first six entries all saw different champs. Local ties were strong with Illinois (Keith J), Maryland (Jane D), Florida (Ken B), and UCLA (Fernando B, Vi P) being picked. So there was no "winner" this year (prize is bragging rights only) but we did have winners in the previous 9.
There have been 184 entries in our 9 years (20.4 avg) with a high of 30 ('11) and a low of 11 ('15). We get a variety of entries from people each year such that only myself and Eric C have participated all 9 years. Andy F (8), Kevin T (8), and Wendy B (7) have been regulars though.
Eric C has won the past two contests and is the only two-time winner. The free contest is open to anyone (the person doesn't have to participate in the real $10 pool) with Giulio B ('14) and Craig H ('17) the only winners to never play in our pool. David A was our first winner in '11 and was the only one of 30 to go 4-0. Points differential (PD) played a part in '12 when two went 4-0 but Michael C had the best (lower) PD of 15 points vs Albert H's 25. '15 was the first year someone won without going 4-0 as Kevin T went 3-1 winning with a 22 PD vs Wendy B's 25. '18 was the only other year no one went perfect as Eric C went 3-1 with a 27 PD (beating out two others).
Craig H had the best year ('17) going 4-0 with a low PD of 9. He picked UC Davis by 4 points on the nose, missed USC's win by one, and the other two games was off by 4 points each. Only twice has a person who didn't win have a better PD with Vi P (2nd, 3-1) having a PD of 29 ('11) and Mike M (7th, 3-1) having a PD of 42 ('16) (vs winner Vi P's 45). 17 of 184 have gone 4-0 while six have gone 0-4 (last being Ken B in '17). The all-time worst PD was yours truly, Scott T, going 1-3 with a comical high PD of 81 in '16. Most were way off missing the FGCU rout of 31 points (Scott T getting a PD of 39 for just that one game - the all-time worst pick ever). '16 was the worst in PD with an average of 55.2 per person (22 people). '17 was the best year with an average PD of 23.3 (16 people).
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Tids & Bits - ...the years referenced refer to the NCAA tournament year (e.g., 1995-96 season is '96)... 148 people have been off in their picks by 7,571 points (41.15 per person or 10.29 per game (36 games))... 16 have gotten the PD of zero for a game (high of 4 in '11 and low of zero in '15)... 4 people exactly got UNC-Ashville's 4 point win in '11 while 3 got NC A&T's win by one correct in '13... only twice has someone picked a team by 20 or more points with Jaime A picking Cal by 20 in '12 (San Fran won by 11 for a PD of 31) and Brian Z picking UCLA by 25 (St. Bonnys won by 7 for a PD of 32)... no team has been a unanimous pick but 10 of 11 did each pick Manhattan (wrong) and Dayton (right) in '15... the closest games were 8 each picking Mount St. Mary's or New Orleans in '17 (MSM won) and 7 of 13 picking Syracuse and 6 picking Arizona St ('Cuse won) in '18... for '15 I put in a goal that if we set a new record of pool entries I'd chip in an extra $25 which has happened twice ('15, '17)... another similarity between the 1st and this year is that I sort of broke a rule with both, adding $44 to the donation in '11 and still adding $25 bonus despite not hitting the 25 entry goal in '20 - at least it's a good use of breaking the rules... with more tests available (3.4 million tested), USA is up to 667,801 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 32,917 deaths... Stay safe!
I have personally donated $497 and thank everyone else who contributed...