Opinion: Get On Board With Fat Bear Week 2021

By James Stein Oct 1, 2021
Image courtesy of flickr.com
Image courtesy of flickr.com

I like to think of myself as a simple girl who finds enjoyment in simple things. Nothing else is more entertaining to me than Fat Bear Week. Created by the Katmai National Park and Preserve, the week was made to celebrate the brown bears who live in the park as they bulk up for hibernation. Traditionally in late September and early October, followers can view the progress of the bears’ plumpiness and participate in a March Madness style tournament to find out which bear is the fattest in the whole park. Those who participate receive a new set of pairings every day and cast their vote for which bear they think is more chunky. Then, when the votes are tallied, the most boisterous bears move on until one bear gets to join the exclusive Hall of Champions. Filled with exquisite commentary and cute bears, Fat Bear Week is something every student should invest their time in. 

Not only is Fat Bear Week purely for fun, but it was also made to educate followers on the importance of maintaining our environment. As their website states, during their months-long hibernation, “bears will not eat or drink and can lose one-third of their body weight.” This makes fattening up for the winter even more crucial. To make sure bears have access to plentiful fish, clean rivers, and healthy forests, we must actively do our part, by recycling and living sustainably. During last year’s competition, it was reported that the ecosystem at Brooks River, located in Katmai National Park and Preserve, was teeming with healthy fish for the bears to catch, and the hope is that the same can be said for this year’s competition.

Apart from the educational side of the tournament, I love Fat Bear Week for the sheer absurdity of it. I personally do not follow sports closely at all. I have many friends who plan weeks in advance for fantasy football and scour over brackets for March Madness, but I never really saw the appeal. As unconventional as this is, Fat Bear week provides the same kind of excitement but for a whole different audience. I may not understand how to make a team for Fantasy Football, but I sure can tell which bear is the fattest. 

Fat Bear Week doesn’t rely on strategy or require extensive knowledge of a game and its players. You simply just use your best judgment to see which bear is the thickest, the beefiest, and the most rotund of them all. Unlike all the assignments and deadlines students like us have to stress about, especially with midterms looming over us, Fat Bear Week is stress-free. No matter what, all the bears participating are healthy and prepared for the winter, so in reality, no one loses in this competition. The tournament starts on Sept 29 and goes until Oct 5. If you’re looking for something to help get your mind off the craziness of midterms, Fat Bear Week should be on your calendar.

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