Recreation and Wellness Center hosts social distancing bracket competition

by | Mar 18, 2020

The competition, based on March Madness, invites participants to rank activities they can do at home and vote for their favorites through Instagram Stories.
Recreation and Wellness Center

The Recreation and Wellness Center is using its social media presence to keep students engaged through the spring 2020 semester with interactive content, such as hosting a March Madness-style bracket competition on Instagram that features social distancing activities. (Photo by August Jennewein)

What are you most likely to do in your free time: text or watch TikTok videos? Play cards or update your Snapchat Story?

The Recreation and Wellness Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis is pitting at-home activities against each other in a competition designed to fill a March Madness-size hole.

Assistant Director of Competitive Sports Dan Bettmann created the bracket following NCAA championship cancellations and spring sports suspensions due to COVID-19 precautions.

“We’ve been doing a lot of ‘this or that’ on our Instagram Stories,” he said. “Those have been really successful, and my co-workers were already making guesses on what would be most popular.”

Bettmann, along with Assistant Director of Student Development and Operations Andy Bruni, began working on the idea by asking co-workers what they do during free time.

Social Distancing Bracket

The social distancing bracket features 64 activities, with the champion determined by votes on Instagram Stories. The winner of the bracket competition will be based on most correct predictions. (Bracket courtesy of the Recreation and Wellness Center)

What resulted is a March Madness-inspired Instagram tournament featuring 64 social distancing activities that range from normal – doing homework, reading fiction – to zany – prove a watched pot does boil, inventory everything you own. Activities are divided into four “regions”: kitchen, bedroom, living room and basement. Within two weeks, the activities will be narrowed down to one ultimate champion.

“I wanted it to be like March Madness, where they’re filling out brackets, submitting them and voting on them,” Bettmann said. “We want to be surprised by some upsets. It’s free, and the form is easy to fill out.”

Before the tournament gets underway on Thursday afternoon, participants are invited to complete a bracket with their predictions of which activities people are most likely to choose. The form is available on the RWC website under “Spring 2020 No Registration Required Events” and should be submitted before noon on Thursday. The winning bracket receives an Intramural Championship T-shirt.

“We would normally be having some competition in a bracket challenge, and we want to provide that normalcy and a distraction in a good way,” Bettmann said.

Although the RWC facility is currently closed, its online presence is strong. Esports match-ups and social media videos showcasing workouts that can be done at home are on the horizon, along with other bracket competitions.

Round one of voting begins at 1 p.m. on Thursday. The virtual match-ups will take place via Instagram Stories. Bracket submission is not required to vote or follow along.

“It’s a dose of fun and a dose of realistic things you can do to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Bettmann said. “We’re always open to feedback and ideas.”

Karen Holman

Karen Holman