Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bracketology is So a Word!

Everyone likes lists. Everyone likes contests. Everyone likes awards. Blog writers everywhere use these three items as crutches to churn out post after post after post. Television specials revolve around them. The radio counts them down. And everyone cherishes how many recognitions their favorite artist/actor/show/person has gained through these means.

But there is another format that turns up once a year that lights the imaginations of people everywhere. Sure, it has some major tie-ins with gambling, and who doesn't enjoy making a few extra bucks now and then. The problem with its tie-in with gambling is that everyone tries to make it work. Unfortunately this occasionally devolves the process into a lottery of sorts.

What am I referring to here? Well, the bracket, that's what. Everyone likes brackets. They just don't know it until March every year.

Whittling down the competitors, facing off in head-to-head battles, with the winners advancing until a final showdown declares the winner. It seems a bit more fair than a list or an award show. It is not perfect, there are always someone else who should have made the field. And since brackets do not handle things in a round robin format, they are not the MOST fair method of competition, but they are fun, aren't they?

The NCAA men's basketball tournament begins with a full slate of games tomorrow. 64 teams will compete in 32 games, then 16, then 8, etc. The winners advance, the losers go home. And people around the country will be looking at their brackets roughly 250,000 times in the next 3 weeks. Heck, even the President of the United States fills out a bracket for this tournament (and he picked the overall winner last year). You'll hear cries of "upset alert," teams "ruining my bracket," and "stop going chalk (always picking the higher seed)" over and over again.

Granted, the seeding for the tournament, or any activity involving a bracket, has elements of listing going on, but they are multiple lists. In some ways, they are competing against each other to see which list is the best. How cool is that?

The form is common. You'll see it everywhere. You'll start thinking of ways to use a bracket in everyday life. (Where should I go to lunch? Let me put together a bracket and debate it with my co-workers! I'll be ready for lunch by closing time.) You'll start thinking of ways to use a bracket to help define your life. (Really, who hasn't put together a bracket of ex-girlfriends to determine who really was the one who got away?) It will become all-obsessing.

And just when you think you are done with brackets, your friendly neighborhood writer will put one in his blog. One can only hope...

Anyway, if anyone is interested, the winners are below in *my* bracket for this year's tourney. Enjoy!

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