Friday, March 20, 2009

March Madness

So I filled out my bracket, because exercises in futility are what I am all about.

I don't really follow college basketball, for a number of reasons of which the fact that I - like everyone else these days - have precious little time in which to do so is probably the least important.

I've never liked basketball.

I hated playing it when I was in gym class, since the whole notion of getting that big ball into that only-slightly-bigger hoop that was positioned a mile in the air and a county down the road just struck me as unlikely. Trying to do so in front of a whole room full of my peers was thoroughly ridiculous, and if I were going to be ridiculous I could do so just as well from the comfort of a nice, soft couch, surrounded by books, snacks, and tea. Fortunately I graduated high school a few years before the future NBA megastar got there and I never had to pretend to care about him the way everybody else did.

I don't like watching it, as I do not understand the game at all. This is probably connected with the events of the previous paragraph, but so it goes. I like football and hockey, and I can't understand why they call fouls in basketball when clearly nobody is bleeding. Nor can I see the attraction of a sport where "good defense" means limiting your opponent to under one hundred points, scored in increments of two. I also like baseball, which gives you time to think about what just happened, what will happen next, your doctoral thesis, political issues, current movies, the life-cycle of moths, and the imminent return of the Malthusian Cycle in between the things that do, eventually, happen. Everything happens at once in basketball, and eventually someone is declared the winner. This is clearly wrong.

Plus the last 15 seconds of a basketball game can stretch out for geological eons, and eventually I start to feel like someone should just turn out the lights and send everyone home with a pat on the head and an "everybody is a winner here, so go get some ice cream" lecture.

Kim likes basketball - she understands it, and even was the scorekeeper for her high school team. She has tried to explain it all to me, but no matter how hard she tries my brain rejects such things and files them under the large and ever-growing pile labeled "Not Bloody Likely," along with literary theory, the merits of long hikes in the wilderness, and the entire neo-conservative evangelical world view.

But every year I dutifully fill out my bracket, because it is fun and because I like to see how I can crush the hopes of the people who do understand this sort of thing. I tend to choose my teams based on a number of criteria, most of which have nothing to do with the actual sport. I always pick the Ivy League team to win their first game, since one day they will. I pick teams where I or people I know have gone to school, though this does conflict with my general policy of not picking Big 10 teams. I refuse to support teams from politically objectionable states, such as Mississippi or Utah. In individual matchups, I tend to go with the team that comes from the place I'd rather visit or live in. And when all else fails, I dredge up half-remembered bits of trivia from Mike & Mike In The Morning and select the teams that they have discussed in the most detail, on the theory that they wouldn't do that for teams they expect to lose.

And the darndest thing about this system is that it is at least as successful as the ones used by people who live for this stuff.

When I ran the museum, I had an intern who loved fantasy leagues, ESPN and sports of all kinds. He was supremely annoyed when I picked more winners than he did, and when my Final Four was more accurate than his.

There is a lesson in that, somewhere.

I see that the President has released his own bracket. It will be interesting to see if I can beat it, though I'm not sure that doing so will make me feel better about the world.

1 comment:

KimK said...

What's in my pile of "Not Bloody Likely"? to ponder.