INDIANAPOLIS -- I see you printing out that CBS blank bracket at work, starting to fill it out in pencil. (You like Murray State's chances for the upset, I see.) I noticed that you'd opened a Fantasy account at ESPN,com, getting ready to fill out 10 different contingency entries. (But you're definitely hedging those bets on Murray State, aren't you?) Seriously, just stop right there. Don't do it. Sure, it's a shared experience with all your friends and online buddies, but stop
. Do not enter the contest. There is a better way.
I have not filled out the complete six rounds of a bracket, in advance, for seven years. Growing up, I never filled the whole thing in. Two years ago, in this space, I put forward my reasoning why you shouldn't enter your office pool.
I never fully understood why secretaties and cubicle dwellers and sportz junkies are so adamant about proving their ability to see the future, especially when most of them haven't seen enough of the past-in-context to have any sort of real perspective. And Bracket Whining Syndrome (BWS) is a national March menace, the disorder that causes people to say things like "Awwww man, my bracket got busted by [fill in the 11 seed]." (Side effects include bystanders experiencing strong urges to kick BWS sufferers in the Pants Region.)
I've always believed that March Madness is more fun, and more mad, when the games are simply enjoyed for what they are -- individual pieces of America's most spectacular and dramatic sporting event. Putting myself in the middle of things, selfishly rooting for teams because a win would give me a certain number of pool points, detracted from that experience. And in the early days before The Mid-Majority, I ran into a rare fellow with whom I found bracket simpatico.Christopher Monks
was, technically, the first guest-poster on this site -- he did the recap of Game 69 of the 100 Games Project
, about how he and I weren't able to meet at a Princeton-Harvard game. He went on to become the editor of the popular and award-winning humor website McSweeney's Internet Tendency
, and write The Ultimate Game Guide To Your Life
. (Sadly, I am not able to claim that TMM was his "big break.") Chris told me that he and his father put together a fill-it-in-as-you-go bracket every year since the early 1990's.
His dad makes the sheet, and Chris fills out the team names. "About ten years ago we sent a pic of us with all the boards we'd done to Sports Illustrated
hoping to win over the heart of whoever is in charge of special interest stories," he told me five years ago. "But we never got a reply. Bastards."
Filling in the bracket as the winners win allows you to experience the NCAA Tournament in a pure way, naturally and organically with no artificial additives. If you don't know the two teams in any particular game very well, your rooting interest will develop based on who's playing with superior intensity and guts, not based on who you thought had the cooler mascot back on Saint Patrick's Day. There's a better chance you'll remember the moments for what they were, not because they helped you get bragging rights over Jim from R&D.
So be a conscientious objector. Opt out. Just try our way this year. It might even end up being a bonding experience for you and your son, father, mother, wife, girlfriend or neighbor. Or, perhaps, all of them together.
But I know that if your behavior is going to be altered, you're going to have to be rewarded for it. That's why we're turning this into a contest.
We are proud to announce The Mid-Majority's First Annual As-You-Go Bracket Contest
. The person who puts together the most awesome, most creative, best-designed bracket will win a trip to the Season 7 Symposium (held in September or October, exact date TBA) at our headquarters, the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Airport
. It's three days, two nights and one room paid by us, as well as round-trip airfare for two -- or round-trip gasoline at current rates if within 250 miles of Indy -- for the second annual season gear-up party/hoops chat/drinking contest/Sports Bubble Stadium tour/funfest weekend. (But you're all invited anyway.)
Here are the rules and procedures for this contest:You must submit a picture of your bracket by Thursday at 12 pm Eastern Daylight Time. You can do this via e-mail (bally [at] midmajority [dot] com), via tweetback (@midmajority) or if you're a Bally Club member, you can attach them to the official entry thread. All entries will be posted on the main site on Thursday, which will be the official acknoledgement of your entry.The winner will be announced right before the Epilogue. (For you new folks, Season 6 will end abruptly when the last of the 26 mid-majors are eliminated from the NCAA Tournament.) Bally and I will be the arbiters, but we'll take suggestions and nudging from the populace.The second round must not be filled out. (Until the second round pairings are known.) On Monday morning, whether Season 6 is finished or not by then, please send in an updated picture.Entrants found to have entered a national website bracket contest will be eliminated immediately by The Robot. He will recognize you from your BWS symptoms.Only entries from the United States, please. (We're going to end up with a budget surplus from Season 6, but it's not going to be that big.)Your entry must be really awesome. Good luck, Hoops Nation!