Catholic March Madness
Hey, basketball fans! Who’s in your bracket? Do you have Cupertino? Valentine? Kergonan?
No? Daniel Macleod, assistant professor in St. Paul’s College at the University of Manitoba, thinks you should. At least, if you want to pass his course.
Macleod penned an essay about March Madness for Crux, a Catholic news website, describing his picks for the NCAA championship playoffs. Of course, being Catholic, he suggests Catholics should cheer on teams such as Notre Dame, Gonzaga and Villanova (his own favourite). His essay was only partly in jest, because he thinks upsets could bring victory to any of the teams.
“I’m from Windsor, Ontario,” the Jesuit says, “and so I am a big [Detroit] Pistons fan. Every year, I make my own brackets and keep up with as many games as I can.”
When March rolled around, Macleod said his father would always cheer only for teams from Catholic schools, so it became a habit for him to seek out and evaluate the best parochial matchups.
Now a professor at St. Paul’s College, he thought he’d combine his teaching and passion for sport by using brackets as a fun way of getting students motivated to study figures from the history of Catholicism.
Macleod teaches classes in the Catholic studies program and as a way of getting his students to become familiar with some of the prominent figures in Catholicism, blends his love for basketball with his personal faith. First-year students get an assignment where they have to research certain historical figures and create an essay, artwork or presentation about their chosen individual. Macleod then sets up “brackets,” pairing up two of the historical figures and students vote on the project that best captures the character of the person. The pairings continue until only two are left.
“Cupertino won a few years,” Macleod notes, meaning the 17th-century Saint, not the California home of Apple, Inc.
For the NCAA games, Macleod says he often does lean towards Notre Dame but feels many other teams have a chance of making it to the Final Four because of the relative youth of many teams’ players.
But do Villanova or Providence or Xavier have a chance against Kentucky?
“That’s why we have faith,” Macleod explains.