G.J. Vitale | Who’s on First?
The maddest March
Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 14, 2013 11:03
I would make the argument that March brings sports fans the most joy out of any month of the year. Put aside your favoritism for a minute and bask in the glory that is March’s sports schedule.
The NBA and NHL are both well into their seasons, and it is getting near to that point in the year where games start to have playoff implications. Who is seeded where? Who won such-and-such conference? Most NBA teams only have 20 games left on the schedule, and it’s crunch time for those with playoff hopes.
In the NHL, this year is particularly important, as it almost did not happen at all. Unless you lived under a rock, you saw the NHL lockout almost scrap this entire season. Luckily an agreement was made and the playing began — better late than never. And let’s not forget about baseball. Admittedly my favorite sport, baseball is back in action — at least at spring training facilities in Arizona and Florida. Regardless, Opening Day 2013 is scheduled for Mar. 31, just squeaking into the month and consequently supporting my claim.
Finally, and probably most important to my argument, March Madness is in March! Every year, college basketball takes the world by storm and everyone goes crazy. Why? Because everyone loves pure competition. So many sports have dealt with off-the-court issues in recent years, including sexual abuse allegations, prohibited recruiting methods, performance-enhancing drugs, lockouts — I could go on all day.
But through it all, the NCAA Div. I championship basketball tournament, dubbed “March Madness,” has managed to keep a relatively untainted image. For this reason, the tournament and the intensity it brings with it have become favorites of sports fans and unknowledgeable onlookers alike. Even at Tufts, an establishment infamous for its lack of athletic support by the student body, brackets will undoubtedly start popping up among clubs and groups, all trying to foresee this year’s biggest upset.
Let’s face it: The way these kids play the game with reckless abandon just makes the contest that much more appealing. Whether you are basing your decisions for your bracket on regular season results or just because you like one team’s uniform better than another’s, you cannot help but pull for “your” team. A sense of ownership is created: You have a stake in the process now, and if you come out on top, God knows you won’t bashfully walk away because you got lucky. You will surely proclaim yourself an omniscient college basketball guru. I know — I’ve been there.
I won my fraternity’s bracket challenge last March and had been walking around like a bona fide Dick Vitale (no relation — or at least none that I know of) for a good two months after the tournament was over. Now, with a new combination of teams in different rankings, I feel as though I may have overstepped my claims a bit.
Whether I win again or not, I love to watch the genuine effort with which the games are played and the fact that no one seems to argue with the system in play. We can see a failed method if we examine the accepted college football championship of the BCS. The system consists of “bowls” that are inferior and widely detested because, at their core, they do not promote competition or “true champions” based on performance. In the bowls, two teams are merely selected by the board to play each other, and one of these matchups (based solely on regular-season records and subjective opinions of those in power) is declared the championship game.
March Madness, on the other hand, provides an environment where every team involved has a chance at being in the game to decide it all. 68 teams, each with the same opportunity: Win all your games, and you are the champion of college basketball. Let the madness begin!
G.J. Vitale is a junior majoring in biology-psychology and English. He can be reached at Gregory.Vitale@tufts.edu.