Monday, March 22, 2010

March Insanity

It never fails.

Every year, I scoff at the silliness of the NCAA basketball tournament. 65 teams, most of whom have no business being there, play each other in a single elimination tournament that completely captivates the entire country for two and a half weeks.

The first bit of silliness is the play-in game. 2 low level teams that have no business being there in the first place play each other for the honor of being eliminated by a number one seed.

The second bit is matching the 16th seeds with the 1st seeds. In the 25 years since the tournament was expanded to 65 teams, not once has a 16th seeded team beaten a 1st seed.

And the final bit is the inevitability of a first-seeded team or two falling by the wayside. Everyone from the professional sports commentators to the people at the water cooler seem amazed by it. This never ceases to amaze me. How can anyone expect the opponent of a favorite to bring nothing less but their A game to the battle?

And the game itself is silly. It has become not so much a sport as a circus sideshow. After all, how can anyone possibly be that tall?

But I always fall for it. I dutifully fill in my brackets every year. I don't put any money on it--learned that lesson the hard way a long time ago--but I do follow it. And inevitably the choices I make are wrong. Case in point: Only one team I picked to be in the Final Four is still in the running.

But there are stories to be proud of too. I have spoken with a man I work with who attended Cornell. He says that for Cornell to have a competitive team is unusual. The reason for this is that Cornell does not offer athletic scholarships. Imagine how hard it must be to put together a competitive basketball team with nothing but athletes who are not only smart enough to attend an Ivy League school but also talented enough to compete on the higher levels.

Yeah. It can't be easy.

That's why I fall for it every year.

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