If you don’t like sports, then you probably harbor some cynicism about the whole March Madness thing. You probably know that it’s popular. More than 80 million people streamed some part of the tournament in 2015. But that isn’t the same as knowing why it’s popular. Even people who are disillusioned by the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals tune in to watch NCAA tournament games every spring. If you’ve never gotten swept up in the madness, here are three reasons why 2019 is an ideal time to start.
It brings people together
It’s no secret that we live in divided times. But sports offer a rare refuge from arguing with your family. When March Madness rolls around, it doesn’t really matter what political party you are or how you feel about whatever is happening in Washington.
At their best, sports allow us to join in a shared experience. It’s not perfect, but nothing is. Though if you’re at work and not sure what to talk about with your new co-worker, you may find that sports can serve as a common language. You may not know where they went to high school or whether they have any kids, but there’s a good chance you can get them to care about March Madness with you.
Sports gives us tunnel vision in the best way possible. There’s nothing like crowding around a TV at a bar or office and waiting to find out whether a No. 5 seed will be able to engineer a comeback against a No. 12 (those 12 seeds are really good at knocking off higher-ranked teams).
It’s an excuse to party
If you don’t believe that sports helps us see the humanity in others, you can believe in this: March Madness is a great excuse to throw a party. The party can be at your office, your house, or even at a local bar. While you’re at it, you might as well get a sheet cake from the bakery down the street. Don’t forget the party favors, especially if this is an office party. Nothing livens up the day like seeing your direct supervisor play with a glow-in-the-dark fidget spinner*.
We’re all at least a little stressed out at work nowadays. The more pressure you put on yourself at work, the more likely you are to deal with job burnout. That’s why smart offices throw the occasional party for their workers. It just feels good to leave your cubicle for an hour or two and head to the breakroom to eat junk food while watching basketball games. If you’re worried about eye strain from sitting in front of the computer too long, then sit somewhere else and look at a different type of screen. It may sound weird, but watching March Madness could actually be beneficial to your eye health.
It’s almost always unpredictable
Right now, fans of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors have it pretty good. The team has won three of the last four NBA titles and seems poised to go on another long run when this year’s playoffs start in April. But fans of the other 29 teams don’t feel so great. The NBA is way too predictable right now. Luckily, the NCAA tournament doesn’t suffer from that problem.
Upsets always happen during March Madness. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t be madness. It would be something like March Predictable Order of Events. It’s rare for all four No. 1 seeds to advance to the Final Four. A couple of top teams always lose focus for a half and then find themselves on the next flight home. Nothing is quite as exciting as watching a bunch of 20-year-old college players storm the court after taking down a virtually unbeatable team. Year after year, March Madness offers examples of underdog stories no one saw coming.