Technically, running an NCAA tournament office pool is illegal if you collect money. After all, that's unsanctioned sports gambling. Yet that doesn't stop people from organizing and funding dozens of NCAA betting efforts every spring across the nation.
Unfortunately for Omaha fifth-grader Max Kohll, his bracket competition wasn't one that eluded official attention. In fact, it got him sent to the principal's office. Seriously.
As first reported in an excellent feature by the Omaha World-Herald's Matthew Hansen, and later noted by Deadspin and a handful of other sources, Kohll decided to host a bracket competition among his friends at Omaha (Neb.) Columbian Elementary School. He charged a $5 entry fee, a modest sum which still required Kohll himself to borrow money from his mom.
Then, on Tuesday morning Columbian principal Kathy Nelson called Kohll into her office after catching wind of the fact that he had a stack of brackets and money stashed in his locker. The fifth-grader got a stern talking to -- he had no idea that gambling on the tournament was illegal -- and his mother, Janet Kohll, was called about her son's illegal activities.
That, it turns out, is where things got a bit humorous, as the World-Herald pointed out in exquisite detail.
Oh, no, what did he do? Kohll asked.
The principal told her.
Then Kohll admitted, somewhat sheepishly, that she knew Max had organized an NCAA tournament pool.
Max may be a bit of a gambler, but he's no liar. When he borrowed the $5, his mom asked him, "Who is holding the money?"
He replied: "Me."
"I didn't even blink!" Janet Kohll said Tuesday. "I make sure I don't send plastic knives to school in his backpack. I never thought about gambling."
Thus ended the very short and ultimately unsuccessful bookie career of Max Kohll, he swears.
Whether Kohll returns to his nascent bookie instincts remains to be seen. After all, he has plenty of years ahead and clearly has a knack for good organization. Perhaps that makes him better suited to be an administrator or accountant.
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Or maybe his hunch that North Carolina will win the title after the Tar Heels and Michigan State get past Baylor and Florida State in the Final Four will prove that his talent really does belong with sports prognostication. For now, the only thing that is certain is that Kohll's sixth-grade bracket will be done via much more clandestine measures.
Perhaps on Yahoo!'s Tourney Pick'Em, for instance.