By Zev Lonner ‘2020
As someone who is a committed follower of baseball and soccer, I often find myself struggling to contribute to school discussions about sports. Many of my classmates prefer football and basketball. However, there is one portion of the year when, despite my lack of basketball awareness, I can participate in a competition along with my more knowledgeable peers. I am referring of course to “March Madness,” or the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. During this championship, which occurs on select days of March and early April every year, millions of people fill out “brackets” with what they believe will be the results of all the games. The tournament has its nickname because it is known for being unpredictable. It therefore gives little to no advantage to people guessing the outcomes. For this reason, March Madness is an event that in recent years, I have begun to deeply look forward to in the winter.
My personal history with March Madness began in ninth grade at Ramaz, when my math teacher challenged my classmates and me, along with her other class in my grade, to a bracket competition. The rules were simple: all of us filled in our tournament predictions, and whoever’s bracket was the most accurate would win a large bag of candy. Naturally, I dreaded this contest. In my mind, I stood no chance against students who kept up with college basketball news year-round. My assumption proved unwarranted though, as I won the candy as well as the immense joy and pride that came along with it. From that point on, I loved March Madness, and I brought this enthusiasm with me when I came to Heschel.
Only a week into this year’s championship, I had already begun to experience many of the aspects of March Madness I appreciate so dearly. I had heard people intensely analyzing all of the tournament’s matchups prior to its start, although I was unable to pick apart the games myself. I filled out my bracket with only slight knowledge of which few teams stood apart from the rest. As a result, I based many of my predictions purely on which teams’ logos, names, and/or colors I preferred. Not long into the madness, though, my choices tested as good as any of my classmates’. Now, I can discuss the competition with anybody and don’t feel the need to hide the fact that I don’t follow college basketball.
Clearly, I am not the only one who feels this way. “Everybody’s talking about it in the hallways. It’s like a culture around the school, and if you want to be a part of it, you can be,” said senior Jesse Abed. Discussing the tournament as well as personal brackets continue to be an activity open for all. Although students’ profound care for the competition may seem childish to some, March Madness is guaranteed to unite people for years to come, and is therefore deserving of high praise.