Why We Love March Madness
The best sporting event of the year is filled with the right kind of hope.
The Super Bowl may be the most watched sporting event of the year, but the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament — March Madness, to you — is the best sporting event of every year. Especially during those first four days of the tournament, which is where we find ourselves this weekend.
I went to a small, private, liberal arts university in Indiana (Taylor University) and consequently have no dog in the Madness’ Division I race to the Final Four each year, but there is nothing quite like watching college kids play their hearts out in a single-elimination tournament each spring. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t go to Gonzaga or Xavier or Davidson. It doesn’t even matter that I’m not quite sure where half of the schools represented in the “Field of 64” originate from.
What matters is that once a year the country turns its collective eyes to cities like Louisville and Akron and Salt Lake City to watch young men do battle in a tournament that (ostensibly) has the same edge-of-your-seat suspense as a Roman gladiatorial match.
I do not mean to make light of the bloody, sadistic Roman duels. But my point, simply, is that only when everything is on the line can the stakes (and the audience’s emotional involvement) reach a certain pitch and level of excitement. Thankfully, College Basketball provides a safe environment within which Americans get their thrills without anyone having to give Russell Crowe a “thumbs down.”
March Madness is also great because it, like spring, is filled with hope. There are possibilities of what may be and the opportunity to write your own destiny. To realize this hope and achieve those dreams, teams must work together and rely in one another. Life-long bonds and memories are formed in the heat of such epic post-season games.
Small colleges get their shot against the titans. Programs with measly, meager budgets and staffing square-off against programs who have entire city blocks on their campus dedicated to the buildings where their players sit in bathtubs filled with ice after games. We root for the upset because that means a smaller school beat a bigger one. We love underdog stories because most people not named Rockefeller or Hilton see the accomplishments in their lives as come-from-behind wins as well.
And despite the best efforts of 24-hour sports news cycles and radio show hosts, March Madness remains largely unspoiled. It is pure, unadulterated competition. Let the best man/team win. Take your shot at sports glory and shake hands when you’re done.
The games are back on. Gotta run!