Are we On? (Dave Vilhauer blog)

I love brackets, but I never fill them out.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always been too busy, or maybe it’s because I don’t like a lesson in futility, but for whatever reason I have never been one to fill out brackets with projected winners, at least not since my childhood.

I remember as a young boy, the newspaper would run a bracket for each of the televised state boys’ basketball tournaments. I would slave over those picks and send in my bracket in the hopes of one day winning the prize. Most years my bracket was ruined by the end of the first day of the tourney. On rare occasion I would make it to Friday night’s second semifinal contest. I don’t ever recall having a bracket still in tact heading into the final day.

While most sports fans can’t wait to fill out a bracket for the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, I have never gotten caught up in the all the hoopla (pun intended). Perhaps it was because most years when the national tourney started, I was up to my eyeballs trying to cover state high school tournaments. By the time I even thought about the national event, it was already underway.

Not that I have anything against filling out brackets or watching the tourney. In fact, I will make the argument that sometimes looking at a bracket (regardless of the event) can be just as fun as watching the event play out. You can let your imagine run wild with possible matchups.

To be honest, I probably watch just was much if not more of the national tournament than the average fan. And I could also hold my own when it comes to picking who is favored to come out of which region. As a little boy, I was glued to the TV as UCLA dominated the tournament. I also recall the days of David Thompson of North Carolina State and the unique uniforms of Marquette.

All of this is to say, while I enjoy the NCAA tourney, I am not as emotionally attached to it as some of my co-workers who filled out a bracket. On Thursday afternoon, one of those individuals could be heard exclaiming, “0 for 2!” after the first two results of the day. Another shouted at the TV, “C’mon Auburn, what was that?”

I could only smile, knowing all too well, that if I had taken the time to fill out a bracket, that could very well be me. Instead, without having a real dog in the fight, I can sit back, relax and enjoy the sheer Madness of March as the unpredictability of the national tournament plays out. While filling out a bracket is fun and challenging, just glancing at a bracket, pondering the possible matchups and then watching the games themselves can prove to be a lot less stressful.