The spirit of March Madness persists

Andrew Little | The Chronicle

March is one of the best months of the year. It’s finally nice outside, we get a week-long spring break, but most importantly, we see the return of the NCAA basketball tournament. 

Even non-sports fans engage in the annual tradition of filling out brackets and competing to see who is the most accurate. Despite my bracket being busted after the first two rounds I still watch as many games as possible, eagerly awaiting the ensuing chaos. 

There’s nothing more satisfying than nailing a cinderella pick. I still brag about having 11-seeded Loyola-Chicago in my elite eight in 2018 when Sister Jean and the Ramblers took the world by storm and made the final four. 

But what keeps even casual audiences on the edge of their seats throughout the entire tournament? Why does every basket feel consequential even when I didn’t watch many regular-season games? 

There’s something about single-elimination, do-or-die competition that brings out everyone’s competitive spirit. For a few weeks in the year, a sports fanatic like myself gets to share his passion with the rest of the country. The madness we call the NCAA Tournament unites us. What other sporting event has us searching for any spare moment or opening throughout the school day to watch just a few minutes of Providence vs South Dakota State?

Spring break is an important benchmark in the school year. It’s our last true break of the year. End-of-course testing is coming up. We are on the last lap. A nice vacation south or just resting up at home for a week rejuvenates and gets us in the right mindset to finish the year strong. But for me, it’s March Madness that gets me ready for the final stretch.

Sports make up a lot of benchmarks in my year. The college football bowl season coincides with Christmas and my birthday. College football and the NFL starting up in September mean it’s time for a new school year. The NBA finals come just in time for the start of summer vacation. But above all, March Madness feels the most intertwined with a specific time of year. Whiffing on your college football bowl selections is nowhere near as soul-crushing as seeing a team in your final four suffer a heartbreaking loss in the early rounds.

It’s not springtime without competitions between my family, my friend groups, and my teams or activities. March madness is the ultimate source of trash talk (outside of fantasy football) and nothing beats bonding over a shared winner pick or communal mourning over an upset. I have fond memories of spending spring break with my brother, dad, and grandpa watching sweet sixteen or elite games. I pride myself in being an expert with my picks but after two rounds I’ve given up on trying to be right and always find myself just embracing the chaos.

Whether your bracket is already busted, or your winner pick is making a Final Four run, I wish you the best of luck in your brackets and hope you hope you enjoy your spring break.

Illustration by Alisha Verma