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The phrase March Madness means many things to many people, but from the sports-illiterate to the baseketball-obsessed, madness is the perfect word to summarize the emotional state that the annual NCAA basketball tournament creates.
Although I do enjoy filling out what inevitably turns out to be a painfully incorrect bracket or two every March, the type of madness to which I am referring is not positive. It is not the edge-of-your-seat sports entertainment that March Madness has come to describe. In fact, with each passing year, I have begun to notice a more literal madness. Actually, maybe rage might be a more accurate term for the emotion that seems to overtake everyone this time of year.
For those who are emotionally invested in the success of their favorite collegiate basketball team, the rage is all too real. Teams that lose in the early rounds normally cause their fans mild frustration, with the exception of major upsets. As the tournament continues, the emotions associated with elimination seem to parallel the five stages of grief – all the way through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
As the clock winds down, denial sets in as fans stare at the screen, waiting for an impossible comeback. As their team desperately scrambles to get back in the game, the fans’ anger begins to erupt, often at the expense of the nearest inanimate object. Bargaining comes next as the fans hope for a chance for their team to redeem itself in overtime. After the final buzzer sounds and takes away all hope, depression takes hold and leaves the grieving fans sitting on the couch, uninterested in the rest of the tournament. Finally, fans accept the loss.
The rage of March does not end with sports fans, though. Although it might be shocking to some college basketball junkies, some people do not enjoy hearing about the NCAA tournament every two minutes. In fact, a significant amount of Americans downright despise the month of March simply because their social media feeds are constantly clogged with people complaining about their busted brackets.
Personally, I enjoy the challenge of the pursuit of the impossible – the perfect bracket. But as someone who neither loves nor despises March Madness, I cannot help but wonder – why must we all be so mad?
Can college basketball fans possibly watch one upset without immediately flocking to Facebook to lament the latest blow to their brackets? Can those who could care less possibly make it an entire tournament without aggressively expressing their complete indifference via social media toward their friends’ chances of winning Warren Buffet’s billion dollars? For the sake of everyone’s sanity, I hope the answer is yes.
From the First Four to the final buzzer of the championship game, March is definitely the maddest of all the months. However, mad as it may be, the rage must be restrained. Maybe next March, we can all enjoy the Madness without so much madness.