Didn’t do so hot in your March Madness bracket this year? Yeah, neither did anyone else.
But now it's April, so jump right back on that horse and join the #WIGOAT Bracket Challenge, where you determine who moves on – rather than a bunch of 19-year-olds from Middle Tennessee State – in an online voting competition to answer the age-old question that’s been debated in living rooms, man caves, radio airwaves and bars across this state for decades: Who is Wisconsin’s all-time favorite sports icon?
Starting Thursday and leading toward its 2016 induction ceremony on April 30, the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame is giving fans the opportunity to settle the argument, once and for all, with a bracket-style competition that pits state Hall of Famers across different eras and sports against each other, with the winner determined by popular vote.
Contenders will include athletes from football, baseball, basketball, the Olympics and more. Legends like Bart Starr, Warren Spahn, Oscar Robertson and Bonnie Blair will face off, one on one, round by round, until only one person remains as the ultimate fan favorite.
Every fan who submits a vote, via the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame Facebook page, will be entered to win two free tickets to the April 30 event at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, the first induction in nine years and the site of the initial ceremony back in 1951.
This is your chance to shake off any lingering bracket blues from the NCAA tournament. The voting will take place in rounds, with the first round being broken up into four days: Region 1 (April 7), Football; Region 2 (April 8), Baseball; Region 3 (April 9), Basketball; and Region 4 (April 10), Olympics and More. Each subsequent round will be structured the same way until only four final members, one from each region, remain. The final four will then go head to head until a single champion is decided upon by the fans.
Each round will last just 24 hours, and fans are encouraged to vote each day in every matchup and to lobby for their favorite Hall of Famers on social media using #WIGOAT.
The 2016 Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame event will enshrine Donald Driver, the Green Bay Packers’ all-time leading wide receiver, and Bo Ryan, the record-setting and recently retired Wisconsin Badgers basketball coach. There are already 135 members in the Hall of Fame, including icons such as Vince Lombardi, Hank Aaron, Barry Alvarez, Al McGuire, Bud Selig, Junior Bridgeman, Willie Davis, Ab Nicholas, Bob Harlan, Fred Miller, Alan Kulwicki, Robin Yount and Bob Uecker.
Besides the inductions of Driver and Ryan, the Hall of Fame will also recognize a number of other prominent sports greats at the event. Ex-Packers lineman Jerry Kramer will be presented with a Legendary Team Award in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Green Bay’s victory in Super Bowl I. Former Milwaukee Bucks owner and retired United State Senator Herb Kohl, a distinguished philanthropist, will receive a Community Leadership Award. And two local high schoolers will be honored with male and female High School Athlete of the Year Awards.
Fans interested in attending the event can purchase tickets via Ticketmaster, by calling 1-800-745-3000 or by visiting the Milwaukee Theatre Box Office, the Wisconsin Center Rotunda or select Walmart stores. For a limited time only, fans who purchase a special $55 tickets will receive a collector’s edition Donald Driver Hall of Fame bobblehead. Select tickets are also available for 50 percent off through a special buy-one-get-one offer, allowing a family of four to attend the event for less than $40.
The Hall of Fame, which was established in 1951 to honor distinguished members of state sports history, is maintained through the support of community partners, including Associated Bank. The Wisconsin Athletic Walk of Fame, free and open to the public 365 days a year, is located on 4th Street in Downtown’s sports and entertainment district and contains bronze plaques commemorating the 135 members of the Hall.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.