It’s that time of year, folks. A time when an estimated 3 million employees spend one to three hours following NCAA basketball games instead of working. Hopefully you have filled out your brackets and are watching your favorite teams or in my case, some I didn’t know existed. It’s March Madness! Office pools and brackets are well underway with only 16 teams remaining.
My limited basketball knowledge has come from watching and attending games in the latter part of my adult life. I never went out for basketball in middle school because I thought it would be less stressful to play all the sports my parents had not excelled at. My mom had a passion for basketball and a reputation as a good player back in her day but the thought of her critiquing my amateur game was enough to make me reject the sport. Needless to say, I did not accept coaching from my parents willingly. A complete stranger could tell me the exact same thing and it would somehow seem more logical.
I eventually got over my parental-coaching fear and considered going out the following year but practice time conflicts hindered me this time around. By the time I reached high school, I felt like I would be too far behind to catch up with the others that had already played for years. I still have never played a game of basketball in my life but it has quickly become one of my favorite spectator sports.
It was not uncommon for former roommates to find me standing or jumping on a couch, yelling at the television during a close game. I still receive the occasional text during an exciting game to ask if I am sitting. I have since gained some courtesy toward our furniture but the television is still on the receiving end of my moments of anxiety.
I even find myself watching more teams than I used to. Before, my basketball viewing was limited to Iowa State and the occasional Iowa school. Then it expanded to Big 12 teams. This year I have watched a variety of conferences and even, gasp, the NBA.
As an ISU fan, I think I have experienced every emotion one can feel during a sporting event this year. Through the good games and bad, you never know what the outcome may be. I guess that’s why you play the game.
The emotional ESPN coverage of an ISU loss to Kansas this season featured Fred Hoiberg’s son crying in the stands and being consoled by his mother. That game was also credited for an angered ISU fan being restrained from Kansas coach, Bill Self, and a public apology from the student body regarding a few other ugly incidents. Sports can be intense but that’s why we love them so much.
An article following the game discussed how anyone who has played a sport has had a moment where they stop thinking and start reacting. I know I’ve been there before and many fans were probably in that position that evening. I know when I’m going to lose sleep over a game and that was one of them.
Even the less sports savvy individuals can enjoy their own form of bracketology. A friend of mine recently told me, “there are so many upsets in my ‘which coach is more attractive’ bracket.” In my experiences, it is generally the person who hasn’t seen a basketball game all season who wins the bracket pool.
This year marks the 75th year of March Madness. This includes 75 years of upsets, nail-biters and blowouts. Not to mention the evolution of the uniform. Have you seen the limited-edition camouflage uniforms Adidas created for six unfortunate tournament teams? I’m glad they were limited. Uniforms aside, March Madness allows for a few weeks of the year where everyone can share in the joy of winning and the agony of defeat. I hope your bracket is doing better than mine.