Saturday, March 11, 2006

March Madness

Any of my American readers will know immediately what the above headline means. The readers in the rest of the world, however, are undoubtedly scratching their heads.

"March Madness" is not a mental health issue, it's a phenomenom. Every year, in March, basketball teams from around the U.S. play in the NCAA tournament. It gives university students an excuse to show school pride and celebrate (or cry, as the case may be). For those past university age, it gives them a chance to reminesce about their youth while making gambling a linchpin of office activities through the office pool (when people try to predict who will be champion).

This year, my alma mater, Villanova Univeristy, is heavily favoured to do well and will most likely get a top seed. This is still true, despite having lost last night to my father-in-law's alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh, in the Big East tournament. Which was a bummer, not least of all because he and I had a friendly wager on the game (I now owe him a dinner) and I'll have to hear chants of "Overrated." Personally, I think we got one loss out of the way on the Road to the Final Four.

It is a real mystery to me why a simple tournament of basketball games can become so important, fun and consuming. But it is. When I worked in Chicago, I was in charge of our office NCAA pool and we had loads of people fill out their brackets. Everybody in the office was talking about it-- even people who knew nothing about the teams that were playing. Maybe that's part of the fun. Maybe it's a way to brighten up the tail end of winter. For people like me, who have universities in the tournament, it's also a way to fondly remember my bygone days and to teach my offspring the Villanova Fight Song.

Here in London, March Madness is not quite the same. There's no office pools. There's no CBS (although in a boon to expats everywhere, they're going to broadcast the first two rounds for free on the Internet! Hooray!). I still remember March 1999, my first March living abroad, when had to buy a very expensive copy of USA Today in the Rome airport, and then I filled out the brackets (for my own amusement only) on the floor of the Rome airport while waiting for my flight back to London. This year, thanks again to the wonders of the Internet, I'll be able to participate in a pool and pay my entrance fee via PayPal. So at least I'll be able to join in on the fun a little bit.

I anxiously AND eagerly await Selection Sunday tomorrow to find out where and when Villanova will be playing. Until then, it gives me a chance to make sure my Villanova gear is clean and practice the fight song one more time with the boys.



Anonymous said...

Ray hurt his eye in last night's loss to Pitt (what is it with Pittsburgh this year--ask TC). Let's hope he's okay and that we're back in good shape for the dance.


Michelle Mitchell said...

March madness in London is probably full of marathon runners wondering if they are fit enough for the big FLM

this time last year Maureen, wow...well we have our memories :-)

Raquel said...

Off-topic: Just dropping by to say hello. Greetings from USA. I got your url from neoworx.