As the month of March 2022 comes to an end, I am reminded of the phrase “March Madness.” In the United States, this term is often used to refer to the excitement associated with the annual National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.

These tournaments start with sixty-eight teams. As losing teams are eliminated, the competition comes down to the “Sweet Sixteen,” the “Elite Eight,” and then the “Final Four.” Basketball fans across the country watch the games and many place bets on the outcomes of individual games as well as the entire tournament.

One popular betting scheme involves individuals selecting the winners of every game that takes place throughout the tournament. This procedure is sometimes called a “bracket challenge.” You can see an example of the brackets with the final results of the men’s teams for 2022 by clicking here.

Fans predict the outcomes of the games, anticipating which teams will succeed as the field is narrowed. People who predict the correct results collect points in their bracket pools. During each round of the tournament, increased points are assigned to each game. For example, correctly picking winners of games in the final weekend results in more points awarded than picking winners in the first round of the tournament. The person who collects the most points wins the bracket challenge.

This process is often referred to as a betting pool – meaning that anyone can place a wager to get into the pool, so long as gambling is legal where the individual resides. Winners who correctly predict the outcome divide the money raised in the betting process, after organizers potentially take a cut of the pool for administrative costs incurred to organize the bracket challenge.

NCAA Women’s College Basketball – 2022 Tournament Bracket

The use of betting pools goes beyond basketball and other organized sports. For example, friends sometimes arrange betting pools about the birth of a baby to raise money for the family. To buy into the pool, someone would pay $5.00 and guess the date of birth and the time of day, as well as the infant’s weight, length, and sex. The person whose predictions are closet to the results wins some of the money raised by the bets, with the remaining balance used to buy things needed for the baby.

What does this practice have to do with TIRF? We regularly look for new revenue sources for the Foundation, so I’m imagining a betting pool about the outcome of the 2022 Doctoral Dissertation Grants (DDG) competition. The pool could include the following factors:

  1. How many applications will there be?
  2. How many different countries will the applicants come from?
  3. How many proposals will be eligible for the DDG awards sponsored by the British Council to promote research in under-resourced countries?
  4. How many proposals will be submitted in each of the TIRF Research Topics?
  5. What will be the country of origin of the 2022 Russell N. Campbell recipient (the distinction bestowed upon the individual with the highest rated proposal)?

Just think of the money we could raise if everyone reading this newsletter agreed to place a bet!

Of course, many readers of TIRF Today are interested in research, and they would probably want to know about the trends from previous years. Fortunately, those data are readily accessible for 2020 and 2021.

There may be rules prohibiting non-profit organizations from promoting gambling, and I am not really suggesting that we set up a TIRF betting pool. But I would like to suggest that if everyone reading this newsletter would send even a small donation, we could support more worthy DDG applicants this year.

I have had the pleasure of reading the applications ever since the DDG program was started in 2002. It is an informative and interesting process, and one I enjoy – except for one part of the process. Every year, TIRF’s Research Advisory Committee tallies the results of the rating process and makes recommendations for which proposals to fund – which necessarily involves deciding which ones NOT to fund. And every year there have been viable applications which we would have been delighted to award, if we had had more money in our budget.

Let me acknowledge, on behalf of my fellow Trustees, that we are extremely grateful for the support of our long-term partners. But we still desperately need contributions from other organizations and from individuals like you. 

In addition to making a financial donation to TIRF, you can also help by telling others about TIRF’s international DDG competition. This year, applications are being accepted until May 18th. We anticipate receiving a larger number of proposals than we had last year, and – as usual – we won’t be able to provide grants to all the worthy applicants.

What is the punchline?

It is a safe bet that we will be very grateful for any support you can provide. Please will you help?

Click here to help us fund deserving doctoral researchers around the world.

Best wishes,