Sports And The City

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March Sadness

with 12 comments

I won’t lie: I’m a NCAA hater. Basketball and football. I’ve never quite understood the incredible popularity of American college sports in Canada. Especially in Canada. Which means that every March, I abstain from the Madness. No bracket. I think I filled one out, years ago, and, in my hating, predicted zero upsets. I had all four number one seeds meeting in the Final Four. I hate fun.

A few days ago, during the second round of games, a friend of mine asked me why the hell everyone on Twitter was talking about brackets. More specifically: broken brackets. So I gave her the March Madness primer and, after detailing the tournament’s minutiae, I said: “On the surface, this tournament sounds amazing.” So, why, all these years, haven’t I been filling out a bracket? After much deep introspection, I haven’t come up with a good answer. Haters, as the saying so famously goes, gonna hate.

I’ve never found the basketball all that appealing. Yes, the intensity’s unmatched, but the quality, at least to a casual ball fan like myself, hasn’t stood out. The games are either a blowout, or 35 minutes of rampant chucking, followed by, if you’re lucky, five minutes of, well, madness. And, in between those final five glorious minutes, timeouts. A maddening, pun definitely intended, number of timeouts. During March Madness, no timeout is left behind.

At the end of the day, I love gambling losing money. And March Madness is every gambler’s dream. So: I’m in. I’m going to continue not giving a shit about this year’s tournament, while quietly supporting underdogs Richmond and Marquette, but next year, I’m letting the Madness, and fun, in. If President Obama’s all over the Madness, so too should I be. Sign me up. Come March 2012, I’m filling out a bracket. I might even fill out two brackets. Maybe even three. Madness, indeed. Or, because it is a one-and-done tournament: Madness!!!1

Image courtesy Neil Wadhwa.

Written by Navin Vaswani

March 21st, 2011 at 11:54 pm

12 Responses to 'March Sadness'

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  1. March Madness for me is an affliction best left to other people. All it does is hog up the news and mess up my wife’s telly programs. Can’t wait until it’s over.


    22 Mar 11 at 5:44 am

  2. Don’t give in! The beginning of this post gave me hope that I wasn’t the only holdout left. The end made me sad. You’re strong; you can resist.


    22 Mar 11 at 9:13 am

  3. I LOVE IT!

    I have the perfect pool for you next year, over 100 entrants, big pot.

    For atleast 4 days, you will have your bracket printed out with a highlighter in hand, just itching to pull the cap off that bad boy!
    If all goes well, the 4 days will continue into the next weekend, unfortunately for me, this year it didn’t. LOL


    22 Mar 11 at 9:37 am

  4. @ William: I was once like you. Well, I still am. But I won’t be next March.

    @ Chris: Read 40′s comment. I can’t fight it any longer.

    @ 40: I knew you’d hook it up, brother. Can’t wait!

    Navin Vaswani

    22 Mar 11 at 10:22 am

  5. I have to be honest, as a Canadian living in the U.S., I too wasn’t sold on March Madness or College Football at first. However, time has worn me down, and I can tell you with the greatest degree of certainty that NCAA Football and Basketball are some of the best sports I’ve ever seen played.

    In order to appreciate the sport, you have to have an engaged interest. When I moved to Ohio, I inevitably began loving the hometown Buckeyes. As such, my love for college football, and subsequently, basketball, bloomed. TO be honest, I dont even really LIKE basketball, but in the US the addiction comes more from the inherant gambling and bragging rights that come from winning your office pool.

    College sports are to Americans what Hockey is to Canadians. I have been on both sides, and I can tell you the comparison is absolutely spot on. Americans too, dont see how Canadians can be so bonkers over hockey. It’s just a different level of each sports involvement in our different cultures.

    For the record, I love both.


    22 Mar 11 at 10:26 am

  6. Thanks, Chops. The parallels between college sports and Americans and hockey and Canadians makes sense. In terms of not making any sense at all. Appreciate the perspective from someone like yourself down in Ohio, where college sports fandom seems nothing short of rabid.

    Navin Vaswani

    22 Mar 11 at 2:11 pm

  7. I think the lack of a rooting interest hurts the tournament’s popularity over here. That, and the fact that, as you point out, the quality isn’t quite there, although the excitement certainly can be.

    That said, I do think the tournament itself is the real star: single-elimination is the way to go to artificially generate excitement. Imagine if pro sports went to such a format (a la the world cup)…insanity! I have to say, I wish the pro leagues would…better than these interminably long seasons followed by unlikeable ‘super teams’ (Heat, Yanks etc.). I’ve started to envy the european soccer format, where clubs play in multiple leagues/tournaments each year.

    Escaped Lab Rat

    22 Mar 11 at 5:19 pm

  8. Yo Nav, reading this pretty much summed up my life until this year. I hated college sports and hated all the attention it got during March. Filled out my first bracket this year for shits and giggles (and $5) and I won’t be turning back. 64 team, one and done eliminator? I’m sold.

    Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t give a flying f-bomb about the games. I can’t stomach to watch such unstructured and talentless basketball. But there’s nothing better than talking smack to a friend after he picked Louisville to reach the final four only to see them flame out against 13th ranked Morehead State.


    22 Mar 11 at 9:01 pm

  9. @ Escaped: That’s true. Other than a good underdog, who am I supposed to root for? There’s certainly no home team. Also: Do you think European fans of baseball look at MLB and think, “Wow, two baseball leagues, one where the pitcher bats, and one where the pitcher doesn’t, and they get to play each other. Cool.”? I’m sincerely asking you.

    @ HLF: You have seen the light. I’m next.

    Navin Vaswani

    22 Mar 11 at 11:24 pm

  10. That’s a trick question. Nobody outside the Americas (and Japan) even knows what MLB stands for.

    But yes, having two leagues is dumb. Down with the pitcher batting…until they show they can actually hit.

    Escaped Lab Rat

    23 Mar 11 at 7:47 am

  11. [...] Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t give a flying f-bomb about the games. I can’t stomach to watch such unstructured and talentless basketball. (link) [...]

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