Thrill of March Madness Taking Over Our Lives
By Brad Arata
The month of March calls for one of the most entertaining sporting events in the nation. College basketball’s NCAA tournament consistently attracts huge crowds, as 70 million people tuned in last year. Last year's tournament was the most watched March Madness tournament in 24 years and this year is expected to exceed those viewership numbers.
March Madness not only affects the productivity of many businesses, it also has an impact on medical procedures, interpersonal relationships, and physiological happiness. Businesses will lose out on an estimated $4 billion in just the first week of the tournament, due to workers prioritizing their bracket success over their work success, according to FoxBusiness.com.
Although, not all of these business impacts are negative, office bracket competition can result in lost money for the company, yet, under-the-table wagering can put more money in the pockets of the employees as well as build camaraderie within the company.
Sports radio host Judson Richards, from XTRA Sports 1360 in San Diego, knows all about the impact of the tournament,
“Perhaps the most distracting of any single sporting event of the year. It's the perfect storm of office pools, gambling, and games taking place during work times, with the added ability to stream online,” Richards described. “Teams get in from all around the country. So it's national and regional all at the same time. And there's a very obvious underdog in every game that is easy to spot. They all have a number.”
Everyone has a bias when it comes to March Madness. People dictate their decisions based on a variety of different factors including rankings, players, personal connections, location, and wagering. These are big reasons that people are so drawn to watching the event.
Sophomore Miles Elkins is a big sports fan, and an even bigger March Madness fan.
“March Madness is the greatest sporting event in all of sports,” said Elkins. “It only comes one time a year so I’m usually posted up with the boys somewhere in the classroom watching it.”
Jason Searle, A Novato High Social Studies teacher, emphasized the appeal of brackets. Using the college basketball model, Searle hosts his own bracketology event in his AP Euro class involving notable European leaders.
US History Teacher and basketball enthusiast Evan Underwood-Jett described the effect the tournament has on his students.
“Yeah it’s definitely something I notice in the class, people are watching on their phones, yelling when there is big plays but I am guilty of it too,” said Underwood-Jett.
March Madness raised a total of $10.4 billion in bets placed, and had a total of 70 million participants this year, according to BleacherReport.com. The madness reaches out to all aspects of people’s lives, even when it comes to decisions about the timing of medical procedures.
There is a 50% increase in the amount of vasectomies performed in the weeks before March Madness due to the opportunity to rest and recover from surgery while watching the tournament, according to Whole Health Psychological Center. This is further proof that Americans are highly attracted to the Big Dance.
The tournament appeals to people of all ages and is popular among anyone with a competitive nature. Unlike fantasy sports, filling out a victorious bracket is primarily based on luck. Although it does take some understanding of the teams to a certain extent, first-year participants are often on an equal playing field with the veterans.
Around work spaces in the month of March, people may start to see a bit of a lack of focus because of the tournament’s appeal. Even within our school, you notice kids all over campus mentioning the tournament, comparing brackets, or looking down at their phones in the halls.
Junior George Cooke closely follows the tournament each year and shows the effect it has on his productivity.
“I find it very distracting, it always takes up class time,” said Cooke. “It keeps my interest more than everyday class work.”
Between periods you can find small groups of kids in different classrooms watching the tournament. Students are willing to miss portions of their classes, in order to catch every possible minute of the games.
Being a junior at Novato, I find myself being greatly distracted during the tourney. On March 15th, the first day of the tournament, I was struggling to focus on my school work. My eyes would uncontrollably begin to gradually shift from assignments to the screen.
The toll the tournament will take on the public this year will be extraordinary, as there have already been a surplus of upsets and busted brackets.