March Madness: Impact on Tam (Web Exclusive)

By Jack Goldman

What could be more thrilling than watching the best college basketball teams square off in March Madness? Simple: filling out a March Madness bracket for yourself! However, this tradition of filling out a bracket may distract students from participating in class and completing their schoolwork.

Every year when March Madness begins, the tradition of people filling out a bracket and predicting which teams will survive the tournament and which will have their dreams crushed starts. Now with advancements in technology, people can stream the games live on their phones and check to see if their picks have been successful. However, with the no-phone policy in most classes, how could anyone dare stream the games or check the scores? Is March Madness more important than Tam’s rules? Has it become an early spring distraction that negatively impacts academic performance and participation?

Junior Josh Davis, senior Emma Weinswig, and campus supervisor Jay Demaestri are among many in the Tam community that have filled out brackets for March Madness for this season or seasons past. When asked about what was on the line for their brackets, Davis said that $350 was on the line. That might be a reason why Davis said that he checks the scores after every game. However, what’s really interesting is that he also said that, “I have not seen anybody check the scores in class.”

Demaestri has filled out multiple brackets, saying that “each buy in was a couple of bucks. Nothing of significant value.” However, Demaestri also said that he tries to watch every game that he can and that he’s always on his phone. If March Madness can grab a hold on fellow supervisors, how can students be expected not to check all the games that are going on in March Madness during school? When asked if the no-phone policy would affect the students’ amount of time checking or watching the games, he said, “yes, it should be affected. [However], some teachers understand that it’s tournament time or don’t care.”

Weinswig filled out a bracket two years ago and said that bragging rights were on the line. She also said that the competition was just against her family so no money was involved, which may explain why she only checks the scores. When also asked about whether the no-phone policy would affect the student’s amount of time checking or watching the games, she said, “I don’t think people follow the no phone policy. I just saw people watching a live game last class.”

Junior Liam Howard described the classroom scene through his experience with students watch ing March Madness. “One kid in my class tried to convince his teacher to sit near a plug so he could monitor the scores,” he said. Sophomore Michael Umolu, who watches March Madness occasionally, says that, “I’ve actually seen people walk out of class and come to the library to stream it.” Tam alumni James Yu believes that, “It’s nothing more than just grabbing your phone before asking to go to the bathroom and then coming back feeling depressed or like you just won the lottery.” Call it what you will, March Madness, Spring Fever, or the Ides of March, but Tam goes basketball crazy for three weeks.