At what point does a game/tournament become bigger than the actual athletic achievement? We all know that the Super Bowl has become more of an event than the game; meaning that it doesn’t actually matter who is playing or whether or not you have a personal stake in the game, the Super Bowl is hyped because of the event itself.
Is March Madness getting to this place as well? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but ESPN2 has been regularly showing games of those “mid-majors” that have become so crucial to anyone filling out a bracket. This season, the teams of Xavier, Wichita State, and George Washington are getting national audiences on a regular basis.
This seems downright odd, except when put into context. A little over two weeks from now, every sports fan and his mother will be filling out their brackets. In the olden days, when it came to choosing the winner of first round match up George Washington vs. UNC-Wilmington; you could only compare their respective records in what my father calls “the newspaper,” and then flip a coin.
So now, ESPN is doing you a favor, if you spend every weekend on the couch, (which occasionally we all do) you can actually see these teams play first hand. Then when that fateful March day arrives, you can make an educated (albeit wrong) decision in filling out your bracket.
The catastrophic effect is that March Madness is now mad for a completely different reason. It has less to do with rooting on your hometown team, or just your favorite cinderella; and more to do with rooting for yourself in the office-pool. And I’m not blaming this on ESPN2, I think their lineup selections is a result of a trend that’s been going on for quite sometime.
Of course, the beauty of March Madness is that it’s a huge tournament, which means something surprising will always happen. And if you’re like me, your bracket is screwed after the first weekend, (regardless of how many Shockers games I watched throughout the winter). Thus I become free to just enjoy good basketball down the homestretch . . . at least that’s what I tell myself in consolation.