If you’re a sports fan, it’s Christmas in March. Our favorite time of year is finally here, March Madness and the beginning of the NCAA Tournament. From sunup to sundown this weekend, we’ll be living and breathing college basketball. Mixed in with a little work here and there, and the occasional adult beverage now and then. It’s a great time to enjoy life, and we’re counting down the Top 11 reasons we love March Madness. On to the list.
11. It’s an excuse to slack off. Unless you work under a complete slavedriver, even your boss is into the Tourney. That means, while you have to at least feign concern for your job, you don’t really have to be all that engaged in the business of the office for at least a few hours on the next three Thursdays and Fridays. For most of us, it’s like a five-day weekend. Which is why March Madness leads to a ridiculous drop in corporate production on an annual basis.
10. The announcing. For those of us treated to the bungling missteps of regional television broadcasters (FSN) most of the year, the voices of the big-time national announcers are the absolute icing on our cake during March. No, you might not like all of CBS’s game-callers, but you have to admit they do a much better job than the folks you’re used to hearing. And who can resist a Bill Raftery “Send it in, big fella!” now and again?
9. The commercials. How often do you see a beer commercial at 11:00 AM on a weekday? The geriatric ads for The Scooter Store, Viagra, and yes, even Life Alert take a back seat for a few days as Budweiser, Miller, and Coors move in on the capacity audience. Even the ads will keep you entertained while you check in on games around the country.
8. Water-cooler talk. If the talk around your workplace is bland and small, March Madness is just the jolt your office needs to get people conversing once again. Chances are you’ll end up speaking to at least a few people you’ve never met before, and the camaraderie will be flowing when you share a Cinderella with a coworker. That came out all wrong…
7. The superstars. From Blake Griffin, to Tyler Hansbrough, to James Harden, to Jon Brockman, to Dionte Christmas, to Terrence Williams, to Jeff Teague, to DeMar Derozan, to Jonny Flynn, to Kyle Singler, and more, there are guaranteed to be a number of big-name players on big-name teams who will step up with memorable performances at some point during this tournament. They might make it to the NBA one day, but we’ll still be talking about their college days long after they retire.
6. The cheerleaders. Let’s estimate 12 cheerleaders per team, across 64 teams. That’s 768 cheerleaders. Somewhere there’s a very happy man who is in charge of cheerleader personnel for the NCAA Tournament.
5. It’s an excuse to party. It’s like a mini-Superbowl every single day for the next four days and extending across the next three weeks. What better reason to go buy a case of beer, invite some friends over, pick up your Azteca Mexican fiesta platter (hopefully someone from Azteca reads this and hooks me up with a free platter), and cheer your brains out for 63 teams you don’t usually root for and one that you always do. Fantastic.
4. The Cinderellas. Whether you like Utah State, American, Stephen F. Austin, Cleveland State, or one of the many other potential Cinderella teams out there, I guarantee at least one miracle ballclub will be able to pull off an upset and capture our hearts. Aligning themselves with the Valaparaisos, Richmonds, and George Masons of our generation, the glass slipper will fit one of these mid-majors and bust millions of brackets in the process.
3. The Unsung Heroes. You don’t know his name, but he’s out there. The seldom-used reserve who will hit a game-winning shot, secure a pivotal loose ball, reject a would-be two points, or otherwise make the biggest play of the game and propel himself into the national spotlight. We might never hear from him again, but for a moment in time, he’ll be our favorite college basketball player.
2. The brackets. It’s our one chance to defy the odds and win a million dollars, or simply show off to our friends how smart we are. With each correct pick, we’ll cheer. With each miss, we’ll grumble. No matter the final result, we’ll be confident before the first tip that we’ve got all the right answers on the 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper in front of us.
1. The emotion. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll scream, we’ll shout, we’ll sigh, we’ll cheer, we’ll jump, we’ll sit, we’ll rise, we’ll fall, we’ll tremble, we’ll fist-pump, we’ll lament, we’ll celebrate. No matter who or what you’re rooting for, you’ll find yourself navigating a labyrinth of emotions over the course of the tournament. Why else would they call it madness?