March Madness is about so much more than betting on NCAA Tournament brackets: sort of…
March Madness is a marketing term along with The Final Four that is trademarked by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The non-profit organization that essentially controls all of major collegiate sports and generates Billions of dollars in television revenue alone each year, including most notably the comprehensive coverage that CBS and Turner Sports, using CBS, TNT, TBS and Tru Tv, employ to show every game live in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
March Madness is a truly unique combination of big sports business and yesteryear innocence of amateur collegiate athleticism. How well the balance continues to be maintained and its future is up for debate, but there is no arguing that even the most casual of sports fans knows of March Madness and is even likely participating in some type of bracket pool.
The world’s richest man, Warren Buffett, is offering any of the 85,000 employees of Berkshire Hathaway an opportunity to win $1 Million Dollars a year for life if someone picks the correct sweet 16 Bracket. This is not even the Final Four or Championship Team, but the final remaining 16 teams in the tournament. It is a difficult, but not impossible feat, with 14 out of 11.57 Million accomplishing the feat in ESPN’s official brackets in 2014, or 1 out of 826,000 (The Powerball odds are now at approximately 1 in 202 Million).
Whether people are into March Madness for the sport of the bracket challenges or the actual cash prizes, there are still a fairly large segment of the population who tune in just for the games. The alumni and fan base from the Usual Suspects of contenders for championships from the like of The University of North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Syracuse and Villanova. Add to the base of Alumni and fans of schools that have either never made it to the NCAA or it has been seemingly forever, like Northwestern University and North Dakota State and you have people and geographic regions that tune to support their schools or home teams.
Giving the old college try, still works within March Madness, as increased parity in the sport has allowed consistent major upsets to take place every year. It may not be David defeating Goliath, but the storylines that come with the upsets give credence to the Madness that takes place every March. The favorites generally and ultimately usually still win, but the process that busts brackets and gives national prominence to programs and schools that may have otherwise been unknown except for the shine that comes with any win in the tournament. It is a reason that little known schools in the Midwest, such as Valparaiso or a Florida Gulf Coast College are known nationally, because of success they have had in the tournament.
March Madness is about hoops and hope. For 67 teams March Madness ultimately equals March Sadness, but the hope that comes with the process somehow seems to be worth any eventual disappointment, unless you are UNC losing the championship at the Buzzer to Villanova… that just hurts.