It’s March Madness which is one of four times I actually care about sports ever. Seriously. I’m just not that into any teams in particular. I remember days while teaching when I could wear jeans if I wore an Ohio State or Michigan shirt for the big game and I often wore a red solid shirt because I was that desperate to wear jeans and I didn't have an OSU shirt. Those people who have jewelry made out of actual buckeyes baffle me.
There are exactly 4 times I care about sports and here they are in increasing order of enthusiasm:
#4 My kid playing a sport.
Yep. My kids are the bottom of this list. I love to watch them play, but I still often miss them scoring because I’m talking to anther mom. I know this will change as they grow and sports become a bigger part of our lives, but as it stands, they’re a sad #4.
#3 Summer Olympics
I tear up whenever they play an emotional song for the girls gymnastics team. This can be anything from them winning a medal to just walking across the gym in a line. I love everything about it. But, I also love swimming track and field, and even the weirder ones like judo and shooting. I find myself nodding along to the commentator like a seasoned fan even if I didn't know that sport existed an hour ago.
#2 Winter Olympics
Though it’s a close call, I prefer winter to summer olympics. I find myself caring about such things as biathlon, curling, and of course figure skating. There’s nothing else to do in the middle of the winter, so I’m an avid fan. The only person I know who gets as into olympics as much as me is my sister. Her enthusiasm for the olympics is epic and her enthusiasm for any other sport is, well, it doesn’t exist.
#1 March Madness
My number one is March Madness. I think it started one of the times my beloved UD Flyers made the tournament, but I just get really excited about my bracket and watching the games each year.
So what is it? What is it about college basketball games that wins a place in my heart over amazing stories of athletes beating all odds to represent their country in the olympics or my own flesh and blood on a field or court in front of my eyes? And I think the answer comes down to the bracket. Each year, we have the opportunity to come into a situation knowing nothing about basketball or any of the teams and filling out what could be a winning bracket. What’s better than that?
This makes me wonder what other things in my life I need a bracket for. Imagine Ryan comes home from work and asks how my day was. "Well, of the two littles, one of them is going into the next round. Nora started out the day with a big smile, so I she was an obvious one seed. But at breakfast she fell behind Grady because she didn’t eat anything, and then wanted 'second breakfast' a few minutes later. Grady came in with the upset because he got his coat on without being asked and got right into his seat when it was time to get into the van."
Or what about choosing a restaurant? You have your usual suspects. The teams you expect to see in the tourney like NC and Duke. Those are the restaurants that are always good. You know the menu and the food and service is solid. But there are a few wild cards in the mix. A new place people keep talking about or a seasonal menu from an underdog that looks really great. Suddenly, you feel an upset coming on. But then, in the 4th quarter when the food at the new place was great and it looks like a win, you go to the restroom and one of the chefs is in there too and she leaves with washing her hands. It’s a heartbreaking, sort of disgusting loss after all.
Maybe next year, instead of a year-end review of books, I’ll do a bracket. I’ll randomly place the books I read into two columns and take them through the rounds. Which title will advance? And who will make it into the final four?
Unfortunately, outside of sports like basketball, there are few things a bracket really works for. There isn’t usually a clearcut winner and loser. I joke about bracketing books, but how do you compare a serious work of literature to a cheesy mystery. I know the classic is better, but I enjoyed the mystery a lot more. Even on my worst days, I don’t pit my children against each other. Though I joke about selling them on Etsy sometimes. (Because I made them.) So, I’ll just have to settle for enjoying a good bracket during March Madness and leave it out of other areas of my life. Except restaurants. It actually works for restaurants.