For some, March Madness comes before school

By on March 28, 2007

Throw away your notes and sell your books because school is out for . March?

It’s that time of year, a time filled with brackets and betting that comes with collegiate basketball playoffs. For some students, the excitement of watching their team try to advance in the tournament and the attempt to predict what is going to happen translates into their taking a break from their school work and making bets on games.

“I like to consider it the greatest time of the year,” said Mike Dabkowski, a freshman business major and diehard Kansas fan. “During March Madness schoolwork takes a backseat.”

Dabkowski is one of many students who find balancing his time between March Madness and his school work to be a real challenge. The first round has 16 games played in one day. For dedicated college basketball fans, they try to find time to watch all the games; this can involve skipping one’s schoolwork. If the first and second round games occur during the fans’ classes, it could be a real problem for some fans.

“I’d skip class for all of the first round games,” sophomore journalism major Luke Devoe said. “You can make up schoolwork, not March Madness.”

The excitement of watching one’s own team try to advance is enough for some fans. Once their own team is eliminated from the tournament, then it loses some of its allure for some fans.

“When your team isn’t in it, it loses a little,” said Devoe, whose favorite team, the University of Connecticut, did not qualify for the tournament this year.

It’s not only the tournament that draws fans, but championship week and Selection Sunday, the day when all the seeds for the tournament are chosen. The build-up for March Madness can get some people in trouble before the actual tournament begins.

“Selection Sunday is bigger than the Super Bowl as far as I’m concerned. It’s like Christmas,” Dabkowski said.

The aspect of gambling and betting on the games also brings added elements to March Madness. Although gambling is illegal, it is still accepted and can be found online through venues like Facebook, as well as in many workplaces. Phil Maddalena, a sophomore psychology major, doesn’t consider himself an avid college basketball fan, but he is still in a betting pool.

“The word ‘madness’ implies anything could happen, so why can’t I win?” Maddalena said.

With the uncertainty associated with the possibility of any of the 64 teams in the tournament winning the national championship, fans believe that their favorite team may win. Other sports pools require people to know what is going on in the sport, but March Madness allows many people to win without knowing a thing about college basketball. It attracts many people who don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about when it comes to college basketball. Sometimes, many experts on college basketball are bested by those who barely follow it.

And it’s not just college students who feel the pull of the tournament. It can be seen in many workplaces around the country. The attraction of the tournament doesn’t stop after college.

Bill Romano, a former Quinnipiac basketball player and a current admissions officer, remembers the years he spent enjoying the tournament as a college student while also trying to keep up with his school work.

“It’s the best time of the year. It was an effort to keep up with academics during the tournament when I was in school,” he said. “Now it is much more of a recreational thing. I’ll follow it when I get home, but at work I keep my mind on the job.”

The tournament catches the attention of both enthusiastic fans and novices to the game. For some fans, it can put a real strain on school and work, but that may be why it is called March Madness.

The final four teams are: Florida, UCLA, Georgetown and Ohio State. The national NCAA semi-finals will be played in Atlanta this Saturday.


About Michael Plourd