(Image Credit Wunderdog.com)
The recent theatrical release “Table 19” opens with Anna Kendrick as a former maid-of-honor, recently fired from that role but invitation still in hand…questioning whether to RSVP to the wedding-in-question. She eventually makes the most of her invite and (spoiler alert) – with a little luck – goes from the disappointment of being seated at the least desirable table at the reception to putting the wheels in motion towards starting a family with the man she loves.
68 teams will also RSVP their invitations in the affirmative to this year’s NCAA Basketball Tournament and (spoiler alert) – with a little luck – look to make the most of their invites as well.
Why do so many get hitched each and every March to the marvelous mayhem this event provides? As easy as B-A-S-K-E-T-S…
Brackets, Brackets, Brackets – The Tournament’s schedule…the bracket…is the coat of arms of March Madness. Millions upon millions of brackets are ruminated upon and eventually completed (pencil and eraser recommended in the early stages). Even if there’s no wager on the line bragging rights are available against yourself, your family, your co-workers…even your pets. Your pets have as good a chance at winning a bracket contest as you do. I consider myself knowledgeable as far as college hoops are concerned and I’ve only picked two Tournament champions in the last decade. By the Final Four the people still eligible to win bracket pools are often those that picked squads based on their favorite colors or their perceived superiority of school mascots…or they really did let their pets pick. Hardcore fans look at predicting March Madness as a winning proposition either way. If their bracket busts badly they’re still having a blast watching because that means the Cinderella stories are even more plentiful. One pet peeve…sport a bracket of integrity. Do one bracket. Own it. Enter as many contests as you’d like but don’t hedge on your original selections.
America Loves Underdogs – We root like crazy for ‘em. We heart any story where the little guy or the unfavored emerge victorious. March Madness seedings bring clarity to even the most inexperienced fan as to who should defeat who. Underdogs and favorites are clearly defined. We know by the end of the first round the entire nation will be talking about a player 99% of the country hadn’t heard of before the Tournament started. We know by the end of the second round the entire nation will have four days to chat up a team 99% of the country hadn’t been aware of before the tournament started. Surprising and spectacular stars emerge every March.
Shared Experiences – Watching the Tournament and participating in bracket competitions bring people together regardless of whether their politics are red or blue (yes, even now…). People of all ages feel universally connected to something much bigger. It is the ultimate live, unscripted reality show. Stories generated from the competition are positive, often heartwarming ones. Many people watch the Olympics for the same reason – the human interest stories. The emotions openly expressed by the participants while navigating wins and losses throughout March Madness similarly reflect what we all experience internally every day just navigating life.
(Image Credit Peanuts.Wikia.com)
Knowledge (And The Absence Of It) – The basics of basketball are (contrary to the above) easily grasped. I think we can all identify with the concept of taking a ball and trying to put it in a target. Many growing up had a basketball as a treasured, on-call pal when no one else happened to be around…yours truly included. It’s an easy game to take in and doesn’t take long even for those with the shortest attention spans. Further, filling out a bracket and predicting results with predictably unpredictable outcomes provides a great, common equalizer for those who don’t follow college hoops at all. It is easy to get engaged and even play along with the play. (Trust me – those “experts” holding court about who’ll win on the court haven’t seen a third of these teams play an entire game. None of us knows exactly how events will unfold.)
Endless Endings – The first weekend of March Madness provides for a relentless tsunami of a viewing schedule with overlapping finishes stretching from early afternoon to late night. Memorable conclusions stream into waiting rooms and watering holes alike. Games are on at work…games are on at bedtime. And they mean everything to those participating…which makes watching as many as you can even more special. A #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed…but we can’t wait for the moment they do. As CBS Sports’ Seth Davis is fond of saying “History repeats itself…until it doesn’t.”
Time Of Year– Most of the nation is trying to wake up from its winter hibernation…even when Mother Nature sometimes struggles to fully cooperate. Filling out a bracket, watching the games and tallying the results have become hand-in-hand with the hope spring is right around the corner. The timing on the sports calendar also fuels the fire and passion of March Madness as the Super Bowl is distant in the rear view mirror (except for Atlanta of course)…while months of NBA and NHL playoffs have yet to begin. Major League Baseball’s Opening Day even waits until most of the Madness has subsided.
Sudden Death, Sudden Victory – The overwhelming finality of it all…for both winners and losers. A nation fattened up courtesy of playoffs and series in other sports is presented instead with a rollercoaster of stripped down, lean, one-and-done competition. Do-or-die contests have great appeal for a viewing audience otherwise used to seeing teams get multiple chances to win a championship.
March Madness comes down to survive and advance. Teams that successfully adapt and adjust to each previously unscheduled opponent in front of them…as well as have luck staying healthy and benefiting from results that clear a slightly easier path…get a shot at winning it all.
I recently heard someone comment “Luck is a construct for the untalented.” I don’t believe that. Certainly not in the case of March Madness. We all need luck towards achieving objectives and the eventual NCAA Tournament champion most certainly requires it. You don’t survive a field of 68 without good fortune.
The classic English writer Charlotte Brontë wrote in her novel “Villette” that “Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot, will not match the expectation.” I don’t believe that. Certainly not in the case of March Madness. The core expectation, the very essence of March Madness is being beautifully unpredictable. Frenzied, fan-tastic mayhem.
(Image Credit GoComics.com)
RSVP in the affirmative to March Madness if you haven’t already. You’re guaranteed a great seat at any table (or nest) of your choice.
And…it never disappoints.
(Image Credit NCAA.com)