Thou shall partake in March MadnessWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It seems the hot topic is what luxuries you gave up for Lent.
I, the good Catholic boy, have sacrificed pop and fast food (and probably a couple thousand calories) for the next 40 days. It’s a fair trade considering what He will bless upon us during the month of March.
Some say the Super Bowl is the crème de le crème of sporting events. Others argue the World Series is the pinnacle of sports excellence in its purist form.
They can have their Super Sunday or their One October.
I’ll enjoy my sports Christmas during a four-week span. Most college basketball connoisseurs affectionately refer to it as March Madness.
The conference tournaments, the bubbles, the brackets, the heartache, the heart pounding, the Cinderellas and the Big Dance are all reasons why the madness of March evokes so much enjoyment when I plop down in front of my big-screen television.
Envision the entire month unfolding like a plot-twisting narrative from week to week.
We all know our protagonists right now are the top teams in the country. Connecticut, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and as I write this, possibly Memphis, are in position for the highly coveted No. 1 seeds. But like any good story, the good characters can turn out to be bad.
The conference tournaments will act as your introduction to the narrative. The antagonists will be introduced here, from conferences that all sound and look the same. The MAAC and the MAC, the MVC and MWC are the little engines that would. Every small school in the country will try to squeeze their fet into that slipper and earn the invite to the Big Dance.
By March 17, 65 teams will fill out the brackets. The one play-in game in Dayton will decide which antagonist lives and which school’s story line dies for this year.
Two days later, we reach this story’s climax. The first day of the tournament could be considered a holy day for college basketball enthusiasts. There is nothing quite like it. Games tip off at noon, and besides a brief break for your local news (make sure to watch NBC 24 at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.), the drama unfolds until midnight.
The tournament’s first two days come with such anticipation and appreciation it makes the perfect climax for our story. This is where David beats Goliath as a 15-seed slings a rock into the chest of a two-seed. Kick your feet in the air Hampton, you just beat Iowa State.
Even better, think back to 2005 when the jerseys were popping out in front of your chest. Bucknell was poppin’ jerseys and breaking hearts as it upset No. 3 seed Kansas on the first Friday of the tournament.
Now, unlike “Choose Your Own Adventure”, once your team is done, they’re done, no flipping back to see “what if.”
Before you know it, we’re on to the weekend, the round of 32. Not as much excitement, but our story begins to head toward a conclusion.
The Sweet 16 comes four days later. It’s back to the office for all those employees who called in sick the previous Thursday and Friday. Brackets have either been highlighted to perfection or thrown away in the trash. Much like our protagonists, the anxiety of the next game is just as unbearable for the person striving for the perfect bracket.
The Elite Eight slices our field and our character total down to only a few. What started off as a complex narrative with different story lines for each of the 65 schools is becoming a spider web of sidebar stories for each of the remaining schools. I like to picture at least one antagonist reach this point in our story.
As March Madness makes way for April’s arrival, we cut the field in half. From the Elite Eight to the Final Four, these schools will travel to Motown for a showdown. Ford Field in Detroit will host the national semifinal and championship game the first weekend in April.
On April 6, in front of a sellout crowd, two characters will meet face to face on 94 feet of endless possibilities until the conclusion is written.
So, do yourself a favor, give up smoking, ice cream and chocolate, but please give in to the madness of March. Anything else would be a sports sin.
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at WNWO NBC 24. He can be reached at email@example.com.