As we near the end of March, we also near the end of an event that every sports fan looks forward to. That’s right, I’m talking about March Madness, a time where sports fans all over the world share similar experiences of filling out a bracket with no direction and watching five games at one time while neglecting whatever work we were supposed to get done that day. If you follow sports at all, everywhere you go, everyone you talk to is enamored with this tournament of 64 teams, some of which we have never heard of and will likely never hear of again. Warren Buffet offers a grand prize of one billion dollars for filling out a perfect bracket, an almost unfathomable amount for an unfathomable feat because filling out a perfect bracket is close to impossible … right?
Everyone who fills out a bracket is relatively aware of the impossibility of a perfect bracket, but to put a number behind it, it’s about a one in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 (9 quintillion) chance. To put this absurd number in perspective, you would have greater odds to win the Powerball and Mega Millions jackpots … in the same week. So why do we fill out brackets then? No-one that’s not from the future is going to fill out a perfect bracket. The closest anyone has gotten to a perfect bracket was guessing an absurd 49 games in a row, and he still had 15 games left to go.
So again I ask, why do we fill out brackets? Anyone you would ask would give you a pretty simple answer: “It’s fun.” Even if you aren’t a basketball fan, filling out brackets is fun. There are so many different ways to fill out your bracket and so many ways to watch it get busted. Whether you pick your favorite mascot, your favorite team, which school is closest to a fast food restaurant — credit to multiple TikTok users — picking a bracket is enjoyable. In this specific tournament, I was incredibly invested — my favorite team was a no. 2 seed with a real chance of winning the national championship, and they lost in the second round; yes it was heartbreaking. The Kentucky Wildcats, one of the most renowned basketball programs in the country, lost to the St. Peter’s Peacocks in the first round. To give you an idea of how crazy this is, St. Peter’s University has almost 2,000 less students than Truman and a basketball court that resembles one of a highschool gymnasium where they have to fundraise to pay officials. Yet, they took down one of the top teams in the country, then did it again and again, almost making it to the final four as a 15 seed. What else can you say besides, America loves an underdog. Is that why we love March Madness?
I would say that’s another part of the reason, but there has to be more. For instance, where else are you going to see five game winners in a day and instantly become a superfan of whichever team you picked in your bracket. The first game of the tournament was during a Thursday morning between Michigan and Colorado State. I was not a fan of either team, and I don’t think I have ever watched a Colorado State University game during my life. At the same time, I was glued to the television, cheering on Colorado State University, in a losing effort, until the final buzzer.
Overall, March Madness is a time that brings us together, and I will cherish the memories of making brackets with my family and others close to me. So I invite you, as I close out this piece, to think of your favorite March Madness memory, whether it’s the elite eight run of St. Peters or watching the tournament with family and friends. Sports is, and always will be, more than a game. It is a cultural and unifying force within our society. March Madness is no different.