How Does March Madness Always Live Up To The Hype?

Posted: March 16, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

It’s a cool Wednesday night in mid-March, and our country is in a brief lull. It’s the calm before the storm. The sleep before the show. The bubbles before the squirts. We’re all taking one last breather before we embark on the greatest annual sporting tradition in our great nation: The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. For the next three weeks we get treated to 63 games of emotional, passionate, and nail-biting basketball. Like clockwork, this tournament takes the nation by storm and seemingly never fails to be loaded with dozens of dramatic finishes that any sports fan will appreciate.

But why is that? Why is it that this specific sporting event, amongst all the other great ones our country has to offer, always lives up to the hype? It’s really the only one that does so every year. The Super Bowl is the most-watched sporting event, but there’s only about a 50/50 shot the game itself is actually entertaining. A lot of Super Bowls are unwatchable after one team seizes control. The NBA and MLB championships are seven game series and rarely get to a winner take all Game 7. Same with hockey. The only other major sport is College Football. We’ve been lucky enough to have a few great championship games lately, but overall the final game tends to lack the drama and quality of play that was built up by the media.

So to me, what makes March Madness consistently great is easy: the players. We know the numbers because we see the commercials for it every year. 99% of these kids don’t go on to play pro. So this is really it for them. It’s the highest point of competition in their athletic careers. There’s approximately 750 players in the NCAA tournament when it starts, and there’s 60 picks in the NBA draft. About half of them will be foreign. So even if every college player drafted is playing in the NCAA Tournament, that’s only about 30 out of the 750 total that will go on to the NBA. It’s an insanely small number when you really think about it. But it’s what helps make this tournament so great. There’s no tomorrow for these kids.

I think this feeling of, “Oh shit, this is what I’ve been playing for my whole life,” gives the players an extra boost of adrenaline that brings all everyone to a relatively even playing field. Yes, the higher seeds still have more talent, but these lower seeded teams loaded with juniors and seniors get that adrenaline boost and bring their game to a whole new level. It’s like those urban legends of mothers who gain super human strength and are able to lift cars if their child’s in danger. The low seeds know this is their last chance to do something memorable in their competitive athletic career. Good luck getting pumped up for a rec league game at age 30. Not gonna happen. They end up playing out of their minds and before you know it, there’s 2 minutes left and they’re leading by 3 with the ball. They start believing they can pull off the upset because it’s been long established that every year upsets do happen. Once they truly believe they can do it, the upset manifests itself. They all know there’s gonna be a Cinderella Story, it’s just a matter of who it will be.

I can’t tell you how excited I am for this weekend. It’s the best four days of sports in the calendar year. Basketball games on four different channels from noon to midnight, all having equal importance. It’s a special feeling seeing that first buzzer beater. The pure joy and elation on the winning side, contrasted by the dejection and tears from the losers. It’s as cinematic as sports get. At this time tomorrow, 16 games will be in the books and we could be saying the same thing we say almost every year…

Was that the greatest first day in NCAA Tournament history?

Probably not. But one thing’s for sure – March Madness never disappoints.

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