10 seconds left on the clock. Tie ball game.
20,000 nervous fans, all on their feet, tensely await the start of the next play. Hearts are pounding, palms are sweating, knees are shaking… this is the moment of truth. After a long, hard-fought 39 minutes and 50 seconds of playing time, the game hangs in the balance and will come down to the final shot…
“What play is the coach drawing up? Who will be trusted to take the go-ahead shot, the potential buzzer-beating game-winner?? And will the defense be able to come up with a stop to give their team another chance?”
As a nation of fans collectively holds its breath, chills run down my spine. THIS is what it’s all about. THIS is the beauty of sports.
More than just a tournament, more than just a championship, March Madness epitomizes the good of basketball; more importantly, it epitomizes the good of sports. Although it can be a bracket-busting nightmare full of heartbreak, it also functions to remind us why we fell in love with sports in the first place: the late game heroics, the come-from-behind victories, the underdog stories… it really doesn’t get much better than this.
For some, March Madness is nothing more than an excuse to eat, drink, and watch basketball all day. It’s fun, and there is no shame in that. But for true fans of the game, it is a chance to appreciate what the greatest minds and players of the sport have to offer. It is a chance to admire the next generation of great playmakers. It is a chance to witness history in the making. Most importantly, it is a chance to remember why we spend so many hours in front of our television all year long watching and cheering for our teams, regardless of the outcome.
The often unrecognized impact of March Madness is that the excitement it generates translates to sports across the board. The element of surprise is the heart and soul of all sports, but it is especially heightened in the tournament. Elevated emotions are more prevalent in March, but they are reminiscent of the great sporting events that have fans on the edge of their seat throughout the year. Ultimately, March Madness serves to remind us that all sports provide opportunities for great narratives. For every buzzer-beater during March Madness, there will be another in the NBA playoffs; for every come from behind victory in the tournament, there will be a 4th-quarter game winning drive in the NFL; for every underdog success story in the first round, there will be a feisty NHL or MLB team that accomplishes the same feat. March Madness is a microcosm of the beauty of sports.
From the shocking losses to the astonishing victories, March Madness never ceases to amaze — it is no wonder so many have fallen in love with the crazy month of brackets and baskets. But next time you are watching a game and find yourself immersed in the amazing emotional roller coaster it provides, take a moment to appreciate not only the tournament, but also the joy (and heartbreak) ALL sports have given you over the years. THAT is the beauty of March Madness, the beauty of the game, the beauty of all sports. March is more than just madness, it is also full of magic.