March Madness Again

2015-ncaa-bracketHave you filled out your bracket yet? If you’re like 40 million others this year, you’ve already studied the stats and made your decisions. Since some of us complete more than one form, about 70 million will be submitted – with wagers totaling about $9 billion. We’ve even coined a new word to describe our fascination with the process: bracketology.

I’ve got family members who attended Duke and Kentucky so I’m always torn between these perennial favorites and rivals. But with relatives who went to Lafayette, UC Irvine and Harvard, I can hope for an upset too. Yet we realize there’s more to this process than just predicting basketball wins and losses. What’s behind our fascination with March Madness? Here are some thoughts:

Community. Spending time with like-minded others reminds us of the importance of our relationships. We can connect with those who share our same interests and values or expand our horizons and reach out to find similarities with others in a diverse group and bond in a new way.

Memories. Rooting for college teams reminds us of the good times we shared with others during our own years at school. Weekends with friends were a welcome relief from the tensions of daily studies. Reflecting on the simplicity of the past can make us more mindful in the present.

Healthy competition. We enjoy watching match-ups, whether they are between a number one seed and an underdog or between two comparable teams. Each player is striving to achieve a personal best and can serve as a role model for attaining our own goals.

Consequences. Accepting reality with its challenges, inevitable setbacks and even defeats can strengthen the will to succeed. When we focus on learning from our mistakes, we can plan how to modify our behavior for the next opportunity.

Fun. Hanging out with friends and having a good time gives us a breather from all of the crises going on around the world. While we don’t want to put our heads in the sand, spending leisure time together can reduce stress and lighten our mood.

So enjoy your March Madness – just don’t spend too much time around the water cooler celebrating your wins or lamenting your loses. Pundits predict that if 2015 is like other years, close to $2 billion dollars will be lost in work-related activities due to the effects of interest in the games. Whether you’re a Millennial or Baby Boomer, digital native or digital immigrant, good luck with filling our your brackets and making your Final Four picks, whatever pools you’ve joined.

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