We are finishing out March…but March Madness doesn’t really end until the first Monday of April. That is when the NCAA National Championship game is played. There are four teams with a chance right now. We call them the Final Four. Maybe your favorite team made it this far. Maybe they didn’t. Monday night will be a big night for television and basketball, but the reality is the entire last month has been big.
Television networks pay enormous amounts of money to televise these games. Schools look for the right coach that can recruit players to get them this far in the tournament. Fans spend exorbitant amounts of money traveling to support their team in the tournament. Even people who have no real interest in sports fill out a bracket or root for a team. What is it that makes March Madness and the NCAA Tournament such a big draw? Why do people identify so readily with a sport during this time while ignoring it the rest of the year? There are several reasons that you might consider.
It Is Regional
This year the four remaining teams are from two regions: the Pacific Northwest and the Southeast. Oregon and Gonzaga represent the Northwest and two original ACC schools, North Carolina and South Carolina represent the Southeast. People will often pull for or against a team that is from the same conference as their favorite team. Most of the time people will at least pull for the team from their same region, especially teams from their home state. People are usually proud of where they live. We may not be excited about basketball or sports in general, but we do take pride in the attention our region gets from a winner. Even when our team is out, we usually pick a favorite to cheer on to the final game.
It Is Temporary
I will usually watch the World Series no matter who is playing because it is only seven games. The regular season of 162 games just seems eternal. One of the draws of March Madness is that it is temporary. It only lasts three weekends from beginning to end. We can watch almost all of the games, especially after the first two days, and be involved. Attention spans are short and getting shorter. This set up appeals to people because they know it will be over very soon.
It Is Inclusive
68 teams start out with a chance to win. 68 teams with at least one representative from each conference in America. 68 teams with players from all walks of life who have dreamed of this opportunity their entire life. 68 teams that represent large cities and small towns. 68 teams from the north, south east and west. 68 teams that represent the wealthiest and the poorest. 68 teams with players from all over the world. 68 teams each given the same opportunity. We appreciate inclusiveness even if we are not good at it. We enjoy the breadth of backgrounds and locales. It appeals to us to see the diversity. The inclusiveness of the NCAA Tournament gets our attention and draws us in to watch the drama play out.
It Is Unpredictable
A few years back Warren Buffett offered $1 billion dollars for anyone that chose a perfect bracket. They had to choose the correct winner of all 63 games that are played. No one won the prize. The reason is that the tournament is so unpredictable. Though some teams have a distinct advantage, literally every team has a chance. This year the Final Four includes one team that is a regular in North Carolina. However the other three teams are not. Oregon has not been to the Final Four in over 70 years and this is the first time ever for South Carolina and Gonzaga. We all like the surprises and the unpredictability of the NCAA Tournament.
As you watch the final weekend of one of the most popular sporting events in the world, you will not be alone. Many other people are drawn to it as well. Some for the same reasons as you while others are there for completely different reasons. Enjoy to commonality with others. You might find a new relationship that will last longer than the three weeks of the tournament.
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