Olivia’s Opinions: March Madness: More than Basketball


Olivia Janicek, CEO

Olivia’s Opinions is back! Please keep in mind this is an opinionated piece, and I may not agree with your point of view. If you have commentary on the subject, please feel free to comment below. Ideas are always welcomed. 

As students count down the days for spring break and warm weather, others wait for something else: March Madness. In the past years, the chaotic NCAA bracket game of unpredictable outcomes, wild rivalries, and intense basketball-watching, has taken over Arapahoe. Students build their brackets early in the month. Some rely on statistics and probabilities to guide their bracket construction. Others count on the less logical: mascots, attractiveness of players, celebrity’s opinions, or even the flip of a coin. It’s a game, and everyone plays it differently.

However, as the month progresses, methodology is quickly overshadowed by the unpredictability of the game. With game ‘upsets’ (ex: a no 16 seed beating no 1), mascot-choosers can quickly overcome their logical counterparts in terms of point value. The randomness, albeit frustrating, pertains as a staple of March Madness culture. Each game is make or break, tragedy or triumph. Confused newbies can rise, as quickly as basketball fanatics can fall. A beautiful and (typically) agonizing emotional journey. (Overdramatic, I know – yet I’ve seen adults break down at the loss of their number one picks)

I’ve participated in March Madness for the past three years, and I’ve never won. Though I am not typically a basketball fan, I am an avid researcher. I pour myself into statistics and predictions; all to engineer the most exemplary bracket of the season. Of course, I’ve never won before, and my bracket almost always crumbles in the second round. Nonetheless, my personal investment in my bracket methodology predominates my disappointment, and I’m always eager to participate the next year. The consuming temptation of victory overcomes the slightest fear of loss.

Typically, I participate in two brackets: family and friends. Each group has a group message. After the first round, the chats ignite as hotspots of rivalry and breakdowns. Teams lose, brackets crash. Chats become whirlwinds of emotion; paragraphs of emotional agony juxtaposed to boastful cries of victory. Rivalries and alliances are quickly established, as petty arguments erupt in the text stream. It’s a dramatic couple of weeks, and often leads to tense dinners and stressful lunches.

However, even with all of March Madness‘s emotional intensity, it’s still just a game. Memories of the suspenseful competition dissolve by mid-April, and people move on. Rivalries dissipate into thoughts of fond, competitive community. We laugh about our past ambitions and arguments over Sunday night meals and holiday parties. It feels unifying, something we all share. Participants are, after all, bound together by one goal: winning (and I suppose, a love for basketball). It may be individual contest, yet still, the theory of unity prevails. Each March Madness participant endures the emotional journey. Each participant suffers defeat and yields victory. The emotional adventure serves as common experience, one many can relate to. This relatable experience guides memories and conversation. It’s a binding force, capable of fostering unity, and eventually, kindred-ship.

March Madness is all basketball, yes, but it’s also so much more.