I’ve decided I’m not going to fill out an NCAA bracket this year. For 15 years I’ve taken the men’s hoops tournament pool as seriously as anything else in my life, if not more. Now, I’m letting it go for at least a year.
In high school, all the guys on the basketball team would post our sheets outside of the library for all to see. In college, the challenge moved online. Now, I’m sick of it.
Part of me wants to remember what it feels like to just be able to watch the games without worrying about my surefire 12-seed upset, or whether or not the guy down the hall at my office had that no-name sleeper going to the Elite 8 that I was too afraid to pick.
I respect the culture of Bracketology. And furthermore, I love the camaraderie it can bring for people who otherwise do not care about sports. But for years I’ve been supporting family members’ outside pools and engaging in pointless battles over whether or not a team was correctly seeded. I’m over it. I like the conference tournaments better, anyway.
For once, I want to see college hoops for what it is, as an adult, without the inevitably biased viewpoint that my gambling brain will force upon me. Call it a cleanse, if you will. I like basketball enough as it is. I can appreciate the stories, the upsets and the great performances without getting anxious over a couple of educated guesses I made after Selection Sunday.
This might be an extension of my retreat from all fantasy sports a few years back. I found that I came to enjoy sports far more when I wasn’t constantly trying to outsmart myself about the games I loved.
I used to be a multiple sheets guy. I’d have myriad possibilities for results, side brackets and so on. I pared that practice down to one sheet of integrity about a decade ago. Now, I’m unplugging completely.
My friends think I’m crazy, and some say it’s not possible. After all, it’s March Madness. But this year, I don’t need that. You can call it a cop-out, or laziness, but to me, it’s liberating. I can finally indulge in basketball without constantly staring at a sheet of paper. Just like I used to do when I was a kid.
Tell us: Are you letting brackets go this year?
Leave your thoughts in the comments below. (And if your imagined bracket needs a home, enter The Washington Post’s Bracket Challenge contest.)