The virus that is March Madness finally struck our home. On Sunday, at the end of the first round of games, I watched with my son as upset after upset slowly destroyed our brackets. Now in the end, who really cares how that goes, except that what is truly at stake is your pride, your sports cred, and the emotional tug of the multiple allegiances you have built up over the years for so many different reasons. The constant battle between your desire to have your brackets be right in this cultural classic and the reminder of your loyalties to your hometown teams, alma maters and plain old favorites makes this time of year chock full of angst. How do I root against La Salle, the small Catholic college from my hometown of Philadelphia, who, as a little girl, I watched with my father compete in the original big five league along with Penn, St. Joe’s, Temple and Villanova? The foundation for all that I love about basketball. How do I root for their opponent, the team I have picked to win in my bracket? How could I not pick Iowa State to go to the final game? I watched them torture Kansas University three times during the season. Surely they were underrated by the rest of the country, but surely I knew better. The same thing with Oklahoma State–hate ’em when we play them, love ’em when I have the luxury of choosing them in the tourney.
I run a business that specializes in team color apparel. I live in the midwest when not working in NYC, and work in an office staffed by total fashionistas. Who is near last in the office bracketology, you ask? Yours truly, of course. This past week as I was licking mysecond round wounds and lamenting my near last place standing in the bracket, I asked the ladies at the top of the heap, just how did they choose their teams. Did I feel better or worse after this conversation? I will let you be the judge. One, a fabulously talented young woman from Great Britain, confessed that she chose her teams based on the whether they sounded like they were from an obscure American place, like Oregon or Florida Gulf Coast. Well, clearly that worked. The next expert I asked chose her teams based on the warm and fuzzy nature of their mascot. A badger over a beaver? In the zoological hierarchy, I clearly don’t know who is the most fierce of the two. They sound like they are from the same family, but clearly, based on mascot logic, the beaver was the better choice. Why wouldn’t you root against a cyclone? We have all collectively suffered at the hands of one too many natural disasters these days, perhaps the logic was not misplaced. From Kansas State to Davidson, to Illinois to Miami, the disappointment seemed to be never ending to me and I never ever personally attended any of these schools. So for those of you who did and still do, my sympathies go out to all of you whose hearts were broken this championship season of march 2013.
As I eagerly awaited this holiday weekend chock full of third round action, despite all of the angst we have all shared up until now, I smiled and was thankful for all of the overriding joy that in the end we all share these three weeks in Spring. May the games begin again and may the best, the fuzziest, the most obscure, the most talented, the best looking, the kindest, the smartest, and the most athletic team win. To quote the king of beers: “here we go.”