March Madness: More than just Basketball to keep sports fans distracted
Written by Ross Gariepy
As a rule I try to never feel bad for anyone. Who wants to feel bad for someone else? It just makes you feel awful…ruins your day, really. But I gotta admit, at this time of year, I truly feel bad for women. Specifically women with husbands or boyfriends, or even those weird girls who hang out mostly with dudes in a platonic way. You see, it’s this time of year, the February/March timeframe, where these women think they’re gonna recoup all those lost hours with their men from the 10-month disaster known as Baseball & Football season.
I can understand the thinking… Football season ended after the first weekend of February, and everyone knows baseball doesn’t start until April 1st. So that’s about eight weeks for couples to spend all their time together: taking cooking classes, doing couples’ massages, tripping on mushrooms together, whatever. The obvious problem with this arrangement? These eight weeks are actually when some of the best sporting events of the year take place.
Let’s start with the biggie: March Madness. Now some people might say, “Wait a minute, the tournament doesn’t start until March 13th this year. What do you mean it’s eight weeks long?” Well, for the irrational sports fan, March Madness really begins in mid-February. That’s when the college hoops schedule somehow creates intriguing matchup after intriguing matchup. And these teams don’t just play once a week. So this week, for example, there are about 31 interesting college basketball games over seven days.
Ladies, when you get home on Wednesday night and your guy’s watching a “random game” on TV, think twice before you touch that remote control. This game could give him that extra insight he needs to determine if Team X is gonna lose in the 1st round of the March Tourney or the 2nd round. March Madness is a strange phenomenon. For instance, I have absolutely no loyalties to any of the big basketball programs. Sadly, I attended BU (not the Baylor version, the Boston version), and they make the tournament once every five years. But for some reason, I can get fired up for a Duke/UNC or Kansas/Missouri game like I’ve had season tickets for 40 years. This past Saturday I actually went to a bar for the 1pm KU/Mizzou game, and I felt nervous…even though I had no clue who I was rooting for. It’s unhealthy; it’s inexplicable; but it’s completely necessary (a big factor in play for me is that I’m so sick of seeing the winner of the March Madness bracket turn out to be someone who picked the teams based on mascot, uniform or perceived sexiness of the team. It’s my life’s goal to win that damn pool).
Let’s explore what else is going on this time of year. Well, ladies, your dude plays fantasy sports right? Guess what? We all just got our automated emails from espn.com last week saying it’s time to activate our league for the 2012 baseball season!! That’s right, it’s officially fantasy baseball season. The regular season might not begin for another five weeks, but in that time we need to refresh our memories on all the players that changed teams in the offseason (when we weren’t paying attention because we were too busy managing our fantasy football teams), read numerous magazines and websites offering advice on who to draft, and then, when we don’t trust those websites’ rankings, we create our own formula for ranking players. Then we need to do the actual draft (which will definitely go through dinner time on a weeknight). If you happen to be with someone who wants to watch spring training games, forget it. Break up now.
Other than college basketball and baseball, add in the final regular season push for hockey and professional basketball, where we might be hanging on every game to see if our team will qualify for the playoffs. And then finally, multiply it all by some more football. What? More football? That’s right. For some fans, it’s actually their favorite time of year. You’ve got the scouting combine where NFL teams are evaluating college players (they actually broadcast this stuff…you could watch a herd of 300lb guys run 40-yard dashes all day long if you really wanted). You’ve got free agency beginning on March 13th (Oh no, our players might leave to play for another team!), and finally, you have the NFL draft at the end of April (which means we spend most of March and April watching the same two guys on Sportscenter argue about who each team might pick in the draft).
And while I’m feeling bad for women in general, let me give a special shout out to the wives/girlfriends of Boston sports fans specifically. Our teams’ season always goes longer, and it always seems to end with us going on a bender…either an ecstatic “Our Team is the Greatest” bender or (as in the case of the Patriots this year) a “How in God’s Name Did this Happen AGAIN” bender. No matter the result, it seems like the Boston sports schedule never has a break.
Ladies, you’ve got it rough. No one’s doubting that. So here’s what I’m gonna do for you: I’m officially giving you permission to force your man to watch whatever TV shows you want. You wanna watch “My Bridezilla’s a Teenage Mom who also happens to be a Real Housewife of Miami?” Fine. He’ll watch it with you. Just as long as there’s not a game on.