The MBA Games is an annual competition that brings teams from top MBA programs across the country to Durham to compete in fun events alongside amazing Special Olympics athletes. The competition started in 1989 and since then, has evolved into one of the largest student-run events on campus! This year, participants included MBA students from Rice, Penn State, Syracuse, UNC, UVA, Purdue, CMU Tepper, Babson, Vanderbilt, and Duke (including Duke MBA alumni and Duke MMS students).

Syracuse student group
The Syracuse team won the MBA Games.

Additional fundraising events are held throughout the year for the MBA Games, which benefits the Special Olympics of North Carolina (SONC). These events include a dodge ball tournament, Halloween party, turkey trot run, and charity auction – and everything culminates in the MBA Games Weekend!

For the MBA Games Weekend (March 30 – April 1), I was a “team captain” and I cohosted the Syracuse Team. Basically, this was an excuse to hang out with the team during the competition and social activities. The games themselves included a dance competition, beanbag toss, business suit relay, 50M dash, crab walk, briefcase toss, tug of war, basketball shootout, trivia, and dizzy bat competition.

On Friday afternoon during the dance competition (the first event of the weekend), I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Syracuse both held an application process for team members and practiced games like the 50M dash and briefcase toss before coming to Durham. Apparently, they did not place in last year‘s competition and wanted to change that! Moreover, they came fully equipped in special dancing outfits for Friday and custom designed jerseys for Saturday. They even brought two extra jerseys for Pam and Anthony, who were the Special Olympic athletes on Syracuse’s team. Their preparation was evident and they rocked individual competitions including the Dance Competition (2nd place) and the Tug of War (1st place). In the end, they also placed first in the entire MBA Games competition!

Together, the 12 participating teams raised over $45k for the SONC! This was a new record and roughly $7k above last year’s amount.

Overall, the games were a lot of fun and definitely brought more color to Durham … My “ordinary” weekend was replaced with meeting various MBA students from across the country, bonding with the Special Olympic athletes, watching the games, and seeing the outpouring of support from the entire Fuqua community (student fans, professors, partners, etc.). The whole event was completely student run, so it was incredible to see my classmates volunteer in various capacities, including emceeing the dance competition, refereeing the games, dressing up as Superman and Superwoman, helping set up for lunch, and even coordinating behind the scenes amongst the large group of volunteers. Undoubtedly, lots of work and planning went into the weekend, and seeing the joy on the athletes’ faces during the games made everything worth the careful preparation.