Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The most wonderful time of the year (is over)

I may be a little out of the loop down here in the South Bay bubble but I'm not talking about Christmas. No, according to TLOML the most wonderful time of the year is March Madness: the college basketball tournament which whittles 32 teams down to one winner over the course of  a couple of weeks and over 30 games.

Because it's a knock out, it's a bit like the FA cup in that there are giant killers and upsets along the way. And it's intense, with many game packed into a short space of time. Lots of people draw up brackets, where you predict who's going to win each game. Drawing up your bracket, talking about who's in your bracket, constantly checking your bracket predictions is a big part of life during March Madness.
TLOML's bracket, which unsurprisingly beat mine
It is almost all some people can think about, resulting in (according to some) billions of dollars of lost productivity. March Madness certainly kept us entertained, and we watched games at home, at friends' houses, over happy hour drinks in local bars - it's on wherever you go.

The funny thing is, these aren't even professional teams. This is a university competition. Can you imagine anything like this level of attention being paid to the British University Football League, say? Let alone the netball league (for I believe - much to TLOML's exasperation - that netball is our closest equivalent. Back me up on this, it's fun to see him riled). With the exception of that anachronistic anomaly the Oxford vs Cambridge boat race, college sports are not televised events.

But here they are huge commercial enterprises, generating income for the universities and creating an incredible opportunity for talented players. Just don't ask too many questions about how they balance their academic commitments with their life as a fulltime baller... No matter, the most important thing is they provide top quality sporting entertainment for rest of us to enjoy. Even as a habitual phone-in-hand watcher of sports, I was gripped by the final this year in which TLOML's beloved Tar Heels lost out to surprise victors Villanova in the final seconds of the game. Just watch the last 30 seconds of the game if you don't believe me. Great telly! Maybe the UK is missing out... time to start that televised netball league?

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