The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

If you know me, you already know what this is about. It's about being a college basketball fan in March. It's about March Madness.

It's about filling out brackets. Not "a bracket" -- BRACKETS. One for your favorite team to win it all (no matter how improbable). One for what you think is going to happen. And one filled with upsets, just for fun. Who knows? Maybe you win the Bracket Challenge on ESPN ($10,000!) or the office pool. Or you just get to rub it in with your friends and even a few so-called friends.

It's about telling your spouse, family, friends, and boss that you'll be extra busy for the next three weekends. Nope, sorry, can't stay late this Friday to work on that project. In fact, I'm leaving early that day. In fact, I'm taking a vacation day on Friday. In FACT, I'm taking vacation days for the next three Thursdays AND Fridays!

It's about being a fan online. It's about posting cheers on Facebook, snarky comments on Twitter, and pictures of the winning shot on Pinterest. It's about finding an online community you are comfortable with, and reading and posting so much that it becomes like the neighborhood bar: you know the regulars, you get the inside jokes, and you join in the site superstitions. (No pictures of gnomes or Leonardo DiCaprio in the game threads.)

It's about having the same feeling in your stomach that you had as a kid on Christmas Eve. Wondering if you got that bicycle you asked for, wondering if your team can actually beat that higher seed. A mix of excitement, fear, anticipation, joy, and anxiety. You care SO MUCH about the outcome, but you can't do anything about it except watch. And cheer. And moan. And jump up and down. And cry.

It's about cheering for your team, sure -- but it's also about the game itself, the poetry of great basketball, the thrill of watching a great individual performance, the satisfaction of watching great team execution. It's about the upsets, the Davids beating the Goliaths, the last-second buzzer beaters, the out-of-nowhere beatdown of a supposedly great team. Unlike some cliches, it is truly about the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

It's a mix of fandom, and loyalty, and bragging rights, and love of the game, and love of the players. It is an emotional attachment and enjoyment that can't be explained to those who don't get it and doesn't need to be explained to those who do. It is the most glorious highs and the most devastating lows -- and we love it. All of it. And every year, we can't wait to do it all again.

Let the Madness begin.

(cross-posted from

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