I've never been accused of being an athlete, but I always take a great interest in the major sports playoffs, so long as they're the three natural American sports: football being chief among them, followed by basketball and baseball. I also love the high-end tennis tournaments, but that's mostly for the chicks.
So I'm a long-time lover of the NCAA "March Madness" Basketball Tournament. No doubt! I won't even pay attention during the regular season, saving up all my energy and interest for the three-week season that ends with the crowning of the new National Champion. I've got my brackets filled out and am looking forward to the action, which starts tomorrow.
I think this Ian O'Connor essay captures my feelings on the whole issue:
The tournament's greatest appeal isn't the Final Four, a forum for the usual superpower suspects. The first two rounds are better than the last two. Nowhere else in sports — outside of a Yankees-Angels series — can you find such a disparity in resources and talent, and yet such a remarkably rich history of little guys taking out big guys.It's all war by proxy, of course. But, in this instance, I always root for the little guys.
Princeton back-doors the defending champ, UCLA, into oblivion. Mouse McFadden and Cleveland State run circles around Bobby Knight and his Red Army from Bloomington. Hampton closes down Iowa State, and Bryce Drew of Valparaiso Laettnerizes Ole Miss.
These are mere ripples in a tidal wave of upsets that have made the tournament a coast-to-coast obsession. People who stumble upon a Duke-North Carolina game in February, and watch no other college basketball games all season, suddenly paint their faces, frame their brackets, and dive head first into the three-week orgy of sudden-death passion and make-or-break stakes.
Unless the University of Texas is involved, in which case I say, crush the puny pretenders. Crush them all.