The Hamsterdam Guide to Non-Sports Fans and March Madness

March Madness is one of the few events that forces obsessive sports fans to share our world with non-sports fans.  Normally we are insulated from them—wrapped up in the safety of our precious stat blogs and late night Big Sky conference games where the uninitiated dare not tread.

Don’t mess with Monte

March Madness, though, is something that everybody participates in.  For example, I don’t know a thing about the personal life of the 43-year-old secretary in my office.  I’m surprised I even know her name.  But I know that last year she picked Butler to go to the Final Four in her bracket.  Like most obsessive sports fans I know, I tolerate discussing March Madness with non-sports fans with a grudging politeness, nodding as they make ignorant statement after ignorant statement and hoping it will all end soon.  No more!  Here are some things I plan on saying to the ignorant non-sports fans who dare discuss March Madness with me this year.

Joe Lunardi is always wrong (and is basically a white-collar criminal)

Joe Lunardi and his “bracketology” have become ubiquitous during the college basketball season.  So much so that people have gone from viewing his bracketology projections as a fun exercise intended to spark discussion and educate people on the tournament selection process to viewing them as Gospel.  “Lunardi has us as a three seed in Cleveland this week, better look into flights.”  “Lunardi has us matched up with Duke in the sweet 16, I can’t wait!”  NO.  When Lunardi says these things, he isn’t predicting what will actually happen.  He is doing a mock selection process to give fans a rough idea of (a) where their team stands and (b) what might be going through the heads of the selection committee.  Lunardi doesn’t help the misconception that he is a fortune-teller by being an insufferable douche on television and in his columns.  But the biggest proof that Lunardi doesn’t know the future is how he gets a leaked version of the REAL bracket from the selection committee before it is announced on TV, and then “updates” his “predictions” to match what the selection committee has decided.  Seriously, he does that every year with a straight face.  If you get inside information about a corporation and use that knowledge to your benefit on the stock market you get sent to prison for insider trading.  I’m not saying Joe Lunardi should be indicted for being a douche, but if you want to forward this blog post to the Securities and Exchange Commission I won’t stand in your way.

People who brag about victories on alternate brackets are scum

Obama explaining to Andy Katz why he is scum

Everybody loves to talk about how great they are doing in their bracket pool or about a great upset they picked.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But there is something wrong with filling out 10 different brackets and acting like you are Joe Fucking Lunardi when you happened to pick an improbable first round upset or Cinderella run to the sweet 16 in one of them.  You see, for obsessive sports fans, the bracket is serious business.  We agonize over our selections.  We analyze the stats, the rosters, the head to head match-ups, the star player’s relationship status on facebook.  We might fill out an alternate bracket or two, but we know that bragging about obscure victories is verboten.  If someone brags to you about an alternate bracket, put it to them this way:  would you go to a roulette table at a casino, put down chips on all of the numbers, and then celebrate when you inevitably hit one? Use that perfect analogy, or just call them scum.

Real fans are doing NIT brackets this year

The above statement is patently false. But this is a card you can play to really put a non-sports fan in their place.  The NIT was once a premier tournament almost on par with the NCAA tournament.  Decades of expansion by the NCAA tournament have left the current NIT as a forgotten also-ran.  People only watch the NIT if their team is unfortunate enough to have been invited, and possibly not even then.  So Mr. or Ms. Non-sports fan comes up to you excited to talk about his or her bracket and how great March Madness is, and you reply that the NIT is where the real action is.  Pretty much anyone can (and does) fill out a bracket for the NCAA tournament.  Filling out NIT brackets is only for the true diehard fans of the game of college basketball.  They’ll walk away from you crestfallen and will be afraid to talk about sports (or anything) with you ever again.  Until their fantasy football draft.

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