Madness the Wash. U. way
It’s that time of year again—and something really strange is happening. We all know it’s impossible at times to sit through a lecture without scanning what your classmates in front of you are browsing on the Internet, and we know all the usual suspects: Gmail and the Huffington Post, or maybe they’re even taking a risk and looking at the most recent gossip about “Game of Thrones” or “Girls.” But in the last week, you may have noticed something you hardly ever see on those MacBook screens glowing in front of you: sports.
March Madness really seems to take on more than one meaning when you’re applying the term to students at Washington University. With the hysteria of midterms causing students to go mad for the wrong reason, filling out a bracket can be a great stress reliever—at least until that 14-seed upsets your Final Four pick and tears your bracket to shreds. And plenty of Wash. U. students join in on the nationwide phenomenon—last year, 6.45 million brackets were submitted to ESPN’s Tournament Challenge. It’s a month where Wash. U. students may actually discuss sports with as much fervor as they discuss chemistry equations.
It’s a noteworthy commentary on our school that once a year, Wash. U. actually gets riled up about college sports, even as the student body generally remains apathetic toward our own athletic teams. People perfectly content to criticize the nature of state schools before spring break seem to have a sudden surge in pride for the public institutions from their hometowns. People who have never before attended a Wash. U. athletic event are discussing the merits of man-to-man versus zone defense. Wash. U., it’s like we don’t even know you anymore. And while it’s not quite the same as donning red and green to cheer on the Bears at the AC, we kind of like it. The pasty nerd complex will only take you so far in life. So for once in your life, let yourself ditch the intellectual egoism and embrace your inner jock (or couch potato), fill out a bracket and spend your next three weekends shuffling between the four channels televising this year’s tournament.
Even if you don’t follow college basketball, consider filling out a bracket—if nothing else, it’s a way to connect with your sports-enthusiast peers at Wash. U. and your friends at state schools. For you novice bracket-makers out there, let us offer just a few pointers. First: make sure that you remember higher numbers are actually worse seeds in this tournament. Don’t get thrown off by the games where an eight seed plays a nine seed—those are the ones where you’re really likely to see an upset. Pick a nine seed, and then a couple days from now you can claim you knew Villanova could beat North Carolina all along.
And while there’s obviously no Wash. U. team to root for, you might be interested to know that the team from our neighbor institution, Saint Louis University, is on fire. When your friends from home call to ask about what you think of their high-seeded state schools, say that SLU’s performance in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament definitely shows that they can compete on a high level this year. This is a golden opportunity for not only betting the shirt off your back on college basketball but also for St. Louis pride, especially for those of you who don’t already follow a college basketball team.
We hope—as many of us always do—that Wash. U.’s own sports culture might benefit from this enthusiasm over March Madness, if only tangentially. Our teams do pretty well, Division III or not. For those of you offended by this editorial because you do, in fact, follow college basketball and Wash. U. athletics, we apologize. But there are so few of you out there that we’ve considered a follow-up staff editorial where we thank each of you by name.
For more guidance on your bracket, check out our how-to video guide online.