What follows are the fund-raising emails, with only minor changes and additions for clarity, sent by TOL regular contributor Bradley Prouse to a group of his friends (he claims) in a March Madness basketball pool. Prouse and his team of adventurers (the Five Crew Canoe) will drive from London, England, to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia this summer in the Mongol Rally. The cast of characters in these correspondences include people he lives with in a domestic arrangement, people he works with in his boring government job, his teammates, and some poor chumps from his social life – but we’ve changed the names to protect their modesty and to hide their (presumed) gambling addictions from their families.
Email one: 11 March, 11 a.m.
It’s Super Selection Sunday! March Madness might mean more money for many Mongol Members. Fiscal freedom is found by followers who fix on the first to final four in the first of the ‘Floating Five’s’ fifty-fifty fundraisers.
What I mean to say is:
Join the Five Crew Canoe NCAA March Madness Pool! Twenty dollars buys you entry. Your knowledge of NCAA basketball, or lack thereof, then earns you 50 per cent of the pot. The other 50 per cent will go towards the Five Crew Canoe vehicle, which will be donated at the end of the rally. This vehicle will have no business carrying five people to the supermarket, let alone to Mongolia. It’s madness!
It’s March, see? March Madness. It’s the time of year when a continent that usually doesn’t care much about a sport where tall Leisure Studies majors throw an orange thing at another orange thing for one/two/three points suddenly cares more about that sport, and only because there’s money on the line. That’s right: it’s college basketball bracket season!
The spreadsheets (brackets) need to filled out and submitted to [email withheld] or any of the Five Crew Canoe before the “tip off” (real thing) of the first game of the Round of 64 (also real). There will be no tie breakers. Participants who end up with the same amount of points will just have to split the prize.
Disclaimer: The collective knowledge possessed by the Five Crew Canoe regarding American college basketball is as woefully regrettable as the vehicle we intend to drive to Mongolia. The pool is intended to be a fun way for people to participate in raising funds to get us on the road. Participation in this pool is a way of sponsoring Five Crew Canoe in purchasing their rally vehicle, and should not be confused with donating to one of our wonderful charities, which you should also do.
Email two: 15 March, 10 a.m.
Let the madness (remember the pun from just up above) begin!
I’d like to start by saying something about college basketball, so I’ve been on Wikipedia all morning trying to figure it out. Here’s what I’ve learned. In this strange activity, sometimes sarcastically referred to as a sport, 7-foot-tall circus freaks are required to throw or simply jump slightly to place a ball into a circular score-tallying contraption called a “hoop.” Another hoop is placed 94 feet away for optimal ridiculousness, into which the other team attempts to throw/jump and place the ball. These hoops were once made from peach baskets, which sounds a lot more delicious and interesting, but the ball got stuck in the bottom. I don’t get it.
So instead, I’ll start by saying thanks so much for helping us take the first steps to getting on the road. The Five Crew Canoe half of the pot will be going toward purchasing a vehicle for this year’s Mongol Rally, which will set off in July. At the end of the rally we will be donating our car to Adventures for Development Mongolia (ADM), kind of like when you donate cans of beans to the food hamper, only this can of beans will likely have lost three wheels and at least two passengers. ADM sells the vehicles to offset the costs involved with importing the vehicles to Mongolia, and uses the additional funds for other charitable projects in Mongolia.
Without the vehicle, we wouldn’t be able to participate in the rally and make a bunch of cash for the Lotus Children’s Centre in Ulaanbaatar, and Cornerstone Housing for Women in Ottawa, and then how would we brag about what adventuresome philanthropists we are at dinner parties and to our moms, probably at the same time because our moms are the only people who ever invite us to dinner parties?
Email three: 19 March, 6 a.m.
A wise man once said:
“Round two is a lot more interesting.”
A slightly less wise, annoyingly persistent man said:
“Round two over…we want an update : )”
Well, here you go Balthasaur. [ed. note: again, we’ve changed the names.]
The second round of games wrapped up yesterday, and I’m starting to get this sport. As it turns out, the team that puts the ball into the hoop behind the opposite team wins. Thankfully, the teams wear different colours, otherwise the whole thing would be an unintelligible mess.
If I wasn’t so high in the standings, I might assume that knowing something about the game would have helped win this pool. Clearly, this is not the case. I wonder if the same goes for playing it.
After a series of devastating mistakes, Nebuchadnezzar has lost his place at the top… though that might have had more to do with his picks. Balthasaur has usurped the number one spot, but Xander and Frida are both poised to capitalize on any of his mistakes. Hopefully he won’t be distracted by his baby-to-be and can keep his mind on the game. Congratulations Balthasaur, but I don’t think it’s fair for you to win AND get a baby.
Can round three possibly be this much fun? Probably not, but it’s much more ethical than dog-fighting, so stay tuned.
Email four: 26 March, 5:00 p.m.
Finally, it’s getting interesting.
Just kidding, we’re still watching basketball. That said, Balthasaur is precariously balancing on his nine-point lead… either that or he has a commanding nine-point lead!
It’s still possible for Balthasaur to go home crying. Not likely though. I once watched him wrestle a bear while riding a motorcycle made of guns. Dudes like him only cry at weddings and while watching any of the following movies:
- Field of Dreams
- Forrest Gump
- Shawshank Redemption
- Old Yeller
- Iron Giant
- Life is Beautiful
- Dead Poets Society
- Friday Night Lights
- We Were Soldiers
- Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid
- The Champ
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Up (first 15 minutes only)
Email five: 3 April, 2:12 p.m.
Alright, folks, let’s mercy kill this thing.
Once again I’ve attached our standings, but I’ve also included the final bracket so you can check my work. I think you’ll find that Balthasaur is the decisive winner, no matter how much you didn’t want him to win. I think you’ll also find that no one would check my work because it would necessarily involve researching the scores of basketball games.
Now, rumour is that Balthasaur based his picks on those of Barack Obama. You could chalk his victory up to chance, or to the rest of us not picking our teams very well, but I believe this is an indicator that the next Prime Minister of Canada will be Balthasaur, though he will have little to no popular support. It’s also fair to conclude that Barack Obama cheated, too.
Finishing in the top five with an almost respectable amount of points, someone with an impossibly Italian-sounding name, and the highest ranking person who knows little to nothing about sports. She came in just slightly ahead of Xander and Frida, who both had their brackets chosen by a robot. On the other end of the spectrum is Gerry Krauthammer, who should have fared a lot better than his embarrassing 43-point finish. Gerry will certainly be hanging his head in shame until the next pool, where his love of the Pittsburgh Penguins will clash with his German love for statistics, order, and mechanically eliminating lesser groups until left with one, reigning supreme.
And that’s all: it’s the end of the March Madness. We’re cured now, doctor! We can all go home, right? Now we’ll pay the pot to the winner and gear up for the next Five Crew Canoe 50/50 pool, the 2012 NHL playoffs. In this sport, white men strap knives to their feet and glide around on ice and though fighting is allowed, they will usually drop their sticks and boxing gloves first, opting instead to punch each other’s hard plastic helmets with bare fists.
This guarantees to be more rewarding than “baskets ball.” I can’t wait to get started.
Yours in adventure,
Bradley, and the Five Crew Canoe