College rivalries can lead to fierce competition on and off the playing field. While excesses of energetic team spirit have historically led to frivolous mascot-napping feuds, this past January fans of two Ohio schools launched a Battle Royale for bragging rights to a much more worthy cause: showing support to restaurant workers financially hamstrung by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first touchdown play after the “tipoff” tipoff was quarterbacked by a Xavier College alum who left a $1,000 tip on a $54 bill at Zip’s Café with a scrawled napkin note that read:
“Please share this tip with all your employees as they work so hard and are dealing with COVID. Go, Xavier!”
After the score was posted to the Internet, it was the University of Cincinnati’s turn to take the kick return and run with it.
The following week, two anonymous UC fans left a $1,001 tip at the nearby Keystone Bar & Grill along with a challenge: “Earlier this week I saw a Xavier fan tip $1,000 at Zip’s… I believe now more than ever we need to support our local restaurants. Let’s see how long we can keep this going … Bearcats up by 1!!”
Keystone soon spread the word of the generous gratuity to Facebook, explaining the tippers who preferred to remain nameless weren’t in it for the glory but in hopes of inspiring others to do likewise. They closed the post by throwing a little friendly fuel on the fire. “It’s your turn, Xavier fans! Who will be one-upping the Bearcats by leaving a $1,002 tip at your favorite local bar or restaurant?”
Xavier and UC being located a mere three miles apart is the perfect call for intense rivalry. “I think the proximity has definitely helped drive the traction on this very generous, feel-good movement,” Zip’s Café owner Mike Burke told CNN.
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“Money aside, I know this has put smiles on faces of everyone impacted and even put smiles on faces of those not directly involved,” Burke added. “I have to say, we could all certainly use some more smiles these days.”
While the game may not be over quite yet, so far, this year’s “Tipoff Bowl” has scored close to $34,000 for Cincinnati’s restaurant workers. When you’ve got a win/win like that, who needs a trophy?
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On the other hand, with a host of college rivalries percolating nationwide, there’s certainly room for expansion.
Maybe it’s time to kick off a new sporting tradition and make the “Tipoff Bowl” an annual sporting event?
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