A reflection on March Madness

By Josie Spiegelman

As someone who doesn’t watch an awful lot of professional sports, much less any at the college level, the idea of meticulously choosing and tracking teams I knew nothing about seemed tremendously unappealing. Although I actually play basketball, I’ve never really seen the attraction to tracking and watching teams. In fact, every year, when the month of March rolled around I would dread having to listen to the blabber of March Madness and upsets. Much like many women in the country, I couldn’t care less about who was in the final four or how Zion Williamson was carrying Duke. However, that changed when I was asked to join a bracket.

I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical when a friend told me her idea of a March Madness competition. We had both never made a bracket, or even voluntarily watched college basketball. Although I wasn’t totally sold on the idea as a whole, especially because many of the people I would be competing against were also girls, I researched the top predictions for the tournament of 2019. It’s a bit embarrassing, but I felt sneaky, cross-referencing and choosing teams for my bracket, and although I only had surface-level knowledge of college basketball, I felt pretty proud and confident about the teams I had chosen. It was almost an empowering feeling, finalizing my bracket and watching my competitors do the same. I had never invested even ten minutes into something like this, and was able to grasp a small bit of the thrill a fantasy football drafter may have. Thus, at midnight on Thursday night, March Madness had begun.

I’m a very competitive person, which might be one of the reasons that I enjoyed myself so much. It’s fun to put your bracket in the hands of the teams you chose and not have to worry about doing anything else. I even got the official NCAA app in order to see how I was ranked. I found myself able to engage in conversations that I wouldn’t be at all interested in even a week beforehand, and enjoyed the feeling of finally knowing what was happening in the grand world of a male-dominated sports society. Tracking the scores of one-point upsets or having to defend my bandwagon choice of Duke winning it all gave me a taste of the nail-biting A’s games my brother and dad would watch and the heartbreak of a  2014 Yoenis Cespedes trade.

Even if I don’t see myself becoming a die-hard college basketball fan in the near future, I can acknowledge how the experience has opened my eyes to a world which I never dreamed to be a part of. It may seem silly, a seemingly life-changing March Madness adventure, but I still found myself learning new things and enjoying the experience. I would encourage every woman to throw a bracket together next year, whether or sports fan or not, to enjoy a tournament which millions of people around the country have staked their paychecks on.