Spring is here! Well, almost here...for most of the country. Here in Wyoming that means we have at least 2 more snow storms to survive by the time summer rolls around...in July. But the other thing Spring brings for the sports lover is a little bit of everything. A little baseball, a little playoff push in hockey and NBA basket ball, a little NFL free agency, mix in some NCAA spring practices, then add in a lot of NCAA basketball. Take your pick, it is the buffet of sports. Something for everyone. A plate of your favorite dish followed by a small dish of your favorite dessert. It's like walking in to Golden Corral where you can get the hot buffet or the salad buffet. No matter the decision you have to get the dessert buffet to accompany anything you get. Pot Roast, beef brisket, potato soup, some green beans and the always healthy garden salad fill you up quickly. But that can always be topped with a bowl of ice cream with hot fudge, nuts,sprinkles and a cherry on top of a chocolate chip cookie. That is what a sports fan faces the entire month of March.
Spring Training may have started in February, but the games started this month. Any pure baseball lover will try to convince you that watching these games are just as good as anything, especially when they haven't watched any baseball since October. Yeah, these people are kinda nuts, maybe a little strange, but it is their sport and for them, something is better than nothing.
For the NFL fan, they have the combine - an annual collection of draft hopefuls attempting to show off their skills to scouts to improve their chance of getting drafted. Then they have free agency, a hope that their team improves its chances of winning the Super Bowl, or a hope to not have to endure more players leaving their team and increasing the likelihood of another year of sucking. March also provides a month or so of preparing for their draft parties. Fans can only dream of their team picking that one guy who will put the franchise on their shoulders and lead the team to the promise of winning the Lombardi Trophy. Yes, these types of fans redefine the word fanatic.
Next you have the NBA and NHL seasons in full swing. Their All-Star games long past, trade deadlines with all the trades made are over, and now fans and teams look towards the playoffs. With teams firmly locked into the playoffs, a lot of the focus goes to those teams fighting to get into the post season fun. Teams residing at the bottom of each league can only hope of a better year next year. But, until the playoffs start, most casual fans wait until April to pay attention to much of what's going on. Yes, there are exceptions, but reality for me says nothing is important until the playoffs.
But, March brings out a certain Madness in nearly every fan. Even the most casual fan takes an interest in college basketball. From friendly wagers to office pools with large sums of money up for grabs, nearly everyone is focused on College Basketball. So much attention is paid to this time of year, even urologists have noticed an increase in vasectomy procedures done the Monday - Wednesday of the first weekend of the tournament (guys, you get it, gals, just use your imagination). I even know moms that tell their kids to leave them alone until April. This is indeed the apex of College Basketball.
The highs, the lows and all the in between of watching March Madness. Fans and casual observers pick 63 games before the first teams hit the hardwood. There is hope in selecting the winners of these games and being perfect in those selections. Then, once the first game starts, and that first upset happens, everyone (or nearly everyone) sees the error of their ways in selecting "that team they didn't trust to begin with." It was these emotions that not only did I experience this year (and every year) that it hit me.
How can I expect...or even hope to pick 63 games perfectly?!?!? C'mon man! Think about it! What are the odds that someone picks every game correctly. In all my years, I've only known of 1 person being perfect in their picks. Aside from that one example, when has anyone ever been perfect in anything? Again, I've only known one person that can claim perfection. His name is Christ. And until I can claim being Christ, I will never pick a perfect bracket for the Big Dance. Will someone else pick the bracket perfectly during my lifetime? Maybe, but I don't expect so. Another reality with the imperfection of picking the perfect bracket - I'll never win an office pool, an ESPN or Yahoo challenge nor the million dollars that come along with any of these wins.
I'm okay with not winning, I'm okay with not being perfect, and I'm thankful I don't have to live up to the expectations of that perfection. I'm thankful I know the only one person who has been perfect.
Oh, and yes, my bracket this year was toast after the first round of play in the tournament.