Whether avid fan or fair-weather spectator you are likely aware that we are smack dab in the middle of ‘March Madness,’ the annual three-week long tournament to crown the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball champions.
For parts of these three weeks, many of us rearrange our lives to accommodate game schedules. We (literally) ‘take a break from our regularly scheduled program’ (broadly considered), not to mention rescheduling meetings, etc. if not calling in ‘sick’ altogether. Good luck to the spouses or significant others who don’t follow the tournament. I guess it’s see you after it’s over.
That anything could captivate and hold our attention for more than 10-minutes these days is an anomaly, much less for three weeks. The phenomenon of the tournament is matched only by the phenomenon of viewership, yet for all its complexity, the reason for the madness seems as simple as ABC…
Accessibility – from the philosophy of ‘build it and they will come,’ it’s been built and we show up! With multiple platforms airing the spectacle, not only can each possession of action be seen, but also on the screen that best suits your needs, from smartphones to mounted TVs. Add to that the scads of print media that offer analysis and analysis of the analysis, well, let’s just say the coverage is comprehensive.
Brackets – an estimated 60 million of us fill out a tournament bracket. Some study all season long and use advanced predictive metrics to carefully select each game’s winner. Others play according to the seeding numbers, others yet by the uniform style. Whatever your strategy, filling out a bracket means you have a personal stake in each game. This isn’t just A tournament but MY tournament, as proven by the paper brackets that get tattered from so much handling or cell batteries drained from checking our electronic ones.
Compelling human interest – mix player and coach personalities, the unpredictability of teams that underwhelm and overwhelm, and the pageantry and spectacle of big-time sports and you have a diversion that sustains, not just draws attention. We hope for the underdogs while at the same time cheering the feats of the favorites. And having so much company watching the same drama unfold, we have common ground to connect with others.
For these three weeks, basketball is the conduit of the utmost in humanness – hopes/dreams/agony/ecstasy/conflict/resolution. That we can access others experiencing it, great, but better yet, work on your jump shot and find a league to play in. Or, if not basketball, softball, bowling or whatever else strikes your fancy. After all, capturing your fitness attention is as simple as ABC.