Why All the Madness?

Today is one of my top three sports days of the year. Along with New Year’s Day college football bowl games and Super Bowl Sunday, the first day of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is special. The tournament is more than a sporting event, it has taken on an identity in American culture known as “March Madness.” Why has the NCAA men’s tournament transformed from a basketball lover’s dream to part of the fabric of who we are? I see three reasons:

1.Story Lines – Like the Olympics, stories emerge during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament about players, coaches, or teams that overcame obstacles to achieve success. Heroes emerge like Stephen Curry of Davidson College in 2008. All 64 teams have dreams of success. Half of them will have their dreams shattered by the end of the day on Friday, but all have hope of having a shining moment on a national stage.

2.Scope of Participants – The tournament is national in scope both in terms of locations of tournament games and location and mission of participating institutions. This year’s tourney has teams from 32 states, and the types of institutions range from enormous state supported schools to small liberal arts colleges.

3.Connectivity – Basketball fans both serious and casual are no longer merely spectators. Friends and co-workers participate in competitions to see who can pick the most winners. This ritual is no longer constrained by physical location as Internet-hosted competitions allow friends to gather regardless of where they live.

Enjoy the Madness. I hope you win your bracket competition… unless you’re competing against me!

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