March Madness Fandom, Which One Are You?

By Chris Hengst

When the calendar flips from February to March, people flock to college basketball. It’s a simple premise but one that’s reinforced annually. The critical analysis isn’t why — filling out a bracket is fun, stealing away at work to watch mid-day games is thrilling, winning money like Rick Neuheisel and then losing your job, okay maybe not that far — it’s what type of person we each become.

There’s a longer list than I’m willing to write of the stereotypes that appear each year in March, but here are my favorites:

1. Your Significant Other

Let’s get this one out of the way first. If you’re a guy, she’s going to scare you at some point if she’s in the same bracket league. Maybe not this year, maybe not the next but it’s a spring sense of terror that infects every male sports fan eventually. She will pick based on color or mascot or some snippet she read in People or the fact that she’s enthralled by Ryan Reynolds and perhaps a shooting guard on a 12-seed resembles him. Either way, your girlfriend will win enough games to have you worried about the 24 hours of gloating headed your way if she actually prevails.

If you’re a girl and the sports dominant spouse and your fellow notches a bracket victory, I’m weary of encouraging him to rub that in because you still hold the ultimate trump card.

2. Stat Guy

He knows your alma mater’s RPI from 1986 and I’m not even certain it was around in 1986. He knows the shooting percentages of the guys on the bench from teams on the bubble. He’s even money to annihilate the bracket challenge. When he tanks, there’s a piece of you that might feel sorry for him putting in that kind of time and losing. That thought doesn’t last long when you spend his money on buying him a shot he hates.

3. College Football Crossover

In the interest of full disclosure, I toe this line. There are legions of us out there, alums of football-rabid institutions with a passing interest in college hoops when the team is winning and pounding keys on message boards asking why the coach hasn’t been fired when they’re not. Send this fan-type a list of the Associated Press Top Ten and watch him squirm.

“I’m not picking Kentucky, Joker Phillips hasn’t done….crap…yeah I like Coach Cal.”

“Greg Paulus played some ball at Syracuse. Little on the short side. Duke? No he didn’t, he can’t hit the bubble screen, how could he be a point guard?”

“Ohio State, now that’s my kind of team. Blue bloods. Paid their dues. Urban Meyer. Bet they can play a bit.”

There are undoubtedly people in your bracket league having similar inner struggles and picking a Sweet 16 based on whom they’d like to see in a 16-team college football playoff. That person is unapologetic about throwing money away and would rather lose cash than win by siding with Marquette.

4. The Boss That Needs Your Picks

Do you value your job? Of course you do, but you value beer money as well. Circumventing an employer that requires your selections because “he’s been so busy at the office” requires two brackets ready on the day they’re due. Send your boss the one that’s decent, not too outlandish so as to keep yourself in their good graces. Send the proprietor of the NCAA pool the bracket slaved over and perfected. No employer in their right mind is going to force you to give them picks but perhaps, in the event it happens and you refuse, it’s a good idea to always have that LinkedIn account current in March.

5. Chalk and Favorites

It’s not up for debate, this friend is picking all #1 seeds in the Final Four and he/she figures upsets are overrated. A coach with a history of choking in March? Playing on the opposite coast? Senseless issues because these teams are in the top five for a reason. This is also the person with whom it is the least fun to watch games. They dismiss underdogs and forfeit a place in sports heaven as a result. Sports hell is being subjected to endless replays of Freddie Prinze, Jr. trying to throw fastballs in the critically acclaimed, Summer Catch, if you were wondering.

Photo via Peter Casey-US PRESSWIRE

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