By: Michael Maher

Every March, for a little over two weeks, the whole nation pretends to live, eat, and sleep everything college basketball. When the infamous “March Madness” season finally rolls around, both sports and non-sports fans alike rush to their laptop or smartphone to compete for the highly appetizing, yet statistically unattainable “perfect bracket”. There are, however, a few more traditional folks who opt for the traditional paper bracket. 

March Madness has become a staple in our country. It brings the same kind of feel and atmosphere as baseball’s infamous “Opening Day” or the highly televised and marketing hotspot NFL “Super Bowl”. But the difference here is that March Madness is not just a single day spent glued to a TV and then back to a daily routine the next day. No, March Madness spans out for days and weeks, and there is no relief in sight from the hype until the final seconds tick off the clock in the championship game. So what exactly makes March Madness so intriguing to its admirers and such a staple in our society? 

In the end, it’s two things. First, it’s freedom. March Madness presents a unique opportunity that most other sports in our country don’t have the capacity to do. Tournament college basketball is not science. You can have all the statistics, analysis, breakdowns, and insight in the world. Yet, you still have the most improbable odds of landing a perfect bracket. Why? Because of all the ridiculous amount of game matchup combinations, along with the emotions and uncertainty that the tournament presents to the teams competing. This is what makes March Madness so appealing to those looking to fill out a bracket. Any bracket that is filled out has the chance of being great despite someone not knowing a single thing about college basketball. And maybe, that bracket will finally be the one that ends up being “perfect”. But is this freedom the only thing that makes March Madness an icon in our society? No, because there is also simply “distraction”. 

The month of March is nothing super significant unless you passionately celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Most people find themselves trapped in a daily routine of school or work with no time for prolonged leisure and entertainment. But that’s where March Madness comes to the rescue. A few weeks of sports craze that is accessible enough to fit into anyone’s daily schedule is all anyone needs for a little distraction. Watching the final minutes of a close game while on a lunch break, or completing a bracket while sitting on a bus allows people to get their mind away from reality for a little bit. If there’s any given opportunity to be distracted, even just for a little while, most people will take that opportunity and run with it. 

March Madness is exactly that; madness. No other traditional sporting event compares to the level of excitement and active participation it brings. Everybody has their reasons for filling out a bracket, therefore, this isn’t serving to take away from actual die-hard college basketball fans who legitimately understand the ins and outs of college basketball. However, just know that record shows that amateur fans have just as good of a shot as die-hard fans when it comes to achieving a perfect bracket. That’s the freedom that March Madness offers to its followers. It’s also the perfect avenue for distraction from routine and priorities. Chances are you’ve already sensed the hype surrounding this year’s March Madness tournament. You most likely know someone who’s already filled out a bracket, or maybe you’ve filled one out yourself. But if you haven’t yet, there’s still time at the writing of this blog. And who knows, maybe your name will one day be the one that appears on the ever sought after perfect bracket.