Friday, March 20, 2015

Oh, The Madness ...

The country is all aflutter with the thoughts of March Madness, better known as the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, which began this week.

It’s become a national event, nearly on par with the Super Bowl or the World Series.

Even the president gets five minutes of air time to run down his bracket.

Never was so much made over so little.

Sure, on the surface it’s a fun little exercise, a harmless excursion into hoops fantasia for a couple of weeks, a time when seemingly every person in the good, old US of A is suddenly enthralled with match-up zones and half-court traps and schools like Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount become part of the   everyday sports vernacular that at this time of year is usually reserved for discussions about NBA playoff odds and the baseball rookie phenom who is tearing up the Grapefruit League.

But really, outside of filling out a bracket in the office and watching some privileged pituitary cases miss about a month in the college classroom, who gives a rat’s ass?

Firstly, I’m not provincial enough to believe that the sports world is the exclusive domain of the sports fan.

My wife, who wouldn’t know a jump ball from a wiffle ball, can actually sit down and take in a sporting event without losing her cookies.

That doesn’t mean she can intelligently discuss what’s going on.  But like a two-year- old child examining a spongy rubber ball, she can derive some enjoyment from looking at the colors.

What happens to this country during those weeks of the NCAA tournament is akin to the general population looking at that colorful ball.

Along with the diehards who can tell you the third man off the bench for Valparaiso, unfortunately at tournament time there has sprung a totally annoying subculture known as the Office Pool Assholes.

March Madness comes complete with office pools out the wazoo. You can find them in offices, in factories and seemingly every other place on the planet, while every other TV or radio commercial you see, hear or smell promotes some product with a tie-in to the tournament. Whether it’s a fill-out-a-bracket contest or an ad featuring Budweiser-drinking male and female models going bonkers in a squeaky-clean modern bar and cheering for their tourney favorite, the words “Final Four” are more common these days than “ISIS extremist.”

The problem with the popularity of the tournament, of course, is that is based completely on the brackets, which are as plentiful  as horse dung at Old McDonald’s farm.

It seems it’s mandated that everyone everywhere is obligated to fill one out. And once they do, they instantly become a member of the Office Pool Asshole cult.

The members are loud, they are clueless and worst of all, it’s against the law to club them over the head with a large mallet.

Filling out such a pool, apparently, gives said filler-outer carte blanche to pontificate on anything and everything that has to do with college basketball, even though said office pooler has not watched a college basketball game since last year’s tournament.

The OPAs suddenly become a combination of Dean Smith and John Thompson and monopolize any conversation about the tournament with their meaningless and uneducated drivel.

Now, keep in mind, the bulk of the OPAs arrived at their Final Four choices based on factors such as, having once driven through the city where the school is located, or because their cousin’s son took a college visit there or they like the snazzy nicknames, like Chanticleers or Runnin’ Rebels.

After putting such diligent thought into their choices, they are driven to then loudly pontificate ad infinitum on why Podunk Tech should have held for the last shot.

A week ago said OPA had zero idea this school even existed, now he or she is rattling their spleen cheering for these kids who they will have forgotten about in less than two weeks.

Yep, the most ludicrous part of March Madness is that, while the tournament lasts about a month, the madness usually takes place in the first week or two.

With most brackets shot in the butt by then, and the average American span of attention being what it is, before the field has been whittled down to 16 teams, most of the initial hype has been long forgotten and the office topic du jour goes back to who’s boffing who and who might be laid off.

For that first week or so, though, them thar hoops is the biggest thing going.

Fear not, however,  the next big American event will jump into the void to annoy the common man and fatten rich business folks’ wallets.

In this case, Easter is on its way and soon all those March Madness ads will give way to those featuring the Cadbury bunny.

Now, that’s something to go mad about.










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