Well, it’s that time of the year again, March Madness. For those outside the US, March Madness is the time of the year when all American sporting eyes are firmly locked on to college (university) basketball. In America, it’s as if the entire world stops for a month and the only happenings and goings on are collegiate basketball results. It’s an amazing annual phenomenon that never fails to take hold of a nation. Even he president fills out a “bracket”, how one guesses how the knockout tournament will progress.
First, let’s touch on the good things about March Madness.
The tournament itself is setup in an amazing knockout format of over 60 teams, with top seeded teams placed to to play their lower seeded counterparts Much like the FA Cup, there is a situation ripe for upset, or what we call Cinderella Stories. This format makes for a nail biting, do-or-die format that has no parallel in the American sports landscape.
With so many teams in the single knockout tournament, the first few weeks are days that are literally filled with nearly non-ceasing games.
And that which makes the tournament so great is what can also be so off-putting.
I guess my realization came last year when a young lady was talking to me about the tournament. She was lamenting how her “bracket was busted” and the shock upset of the day. When I inquired deeper into her fandom of college basketball, she admitted that she never watches the season but jumps aboard the bandwagon like everyone else cone tine. I think that was the final straw for me.
I will admit, March Madness has been some of the most fun sporting events that I have partaken in. Heck, I’ll be going to many of the events next year when Phoenix hosts the Final Four. Many of my closest friends went to the University of Arizona where college basketball is a minor religion. I will not contest that the tournament is entertaining and that her fans have some of the most loyal and rabid bases on Earth. What I don’t like, is the communal mania that everyone else blindly signs up to.
For one month, the nation plays an exaggerated game of self-denial and newfound fandom, only to be as quickly tossed as it was gained. Across America, people who don’t know the first thing about college basketball will have hour long conversations about the tournament, the teams, and results. It’s as if the whole world made a secret pact to play pretend for a month, only instead of tea parties filled with Teddy Bears at the table, everyone is pretending to wonder how a scholastic sporting event will play out instead of Prince Charming’s whereabouts.
And that’s why I’ve refused to watch March Madness, going on two years now. I can’t, can’t, cannot, stand disingenuity (see: fakeness), and this month long roundball worship is the epitome of a disingenuous fetish. I can’t stand it.
Again, there are many hardcore fans out there who live, breath, and die college basketball. These guys are great and this is there Christmas time. Again, this tournament is great to watch and to follow. That isn’t my point. My point is, who are all these people who share a stunned nod and tell each other, “Yeah, I can’t believe Villanova got eliminated!” when these same people couldn’t name one active college basketball player if you put a gun to their heads.
Everyone can play pretend that they’re college basketball fans for a month to fit in all they want. I, for one, am done being fake.