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April 24, 2014

TV 101: Behind the Madness of March Madness

by Dr. Ryan Vaughan, PhD (no, seriously), posted Mar 16th 2011 3:30PM
March Madness starts tomorrow, and for those of you who don't watch ESPN year-round, the "Madness" refers to the men's NCAA basketball tournament. Sixty-four teams -- I refuse to acknowledge the four additional "play-in" teams -- all dead-set on one goal: missing as much class as possible.

But "Madness" is such a vague term that it carries interesting connotations. To whom is such madness really referring? It could be about the basketball itself: There's enough pressure, buzzer-beaters, and "pounding the ball inside" to keep even the girlfriend of a fan interested for awhile. But, relatively speaking, that kind of Madness is rare when most of the tournament is spent watching Awesome University pummel Sh*tty State.

If it's not all about the basketball, then the madness might define the way our culture reacts as soon as March rolls around. We make up words like "bracketology." We hang on Gus Johnson's every word as if he were FDR delivering a Fireside Chat. We may or may not position a urine jug next to the couch so we don't have to miss that new Papa John's commercial offering some ridiculous special, like "Meat Madness," that we initially scoff at, but after the 14th time seeing it we order 12 of those bad boys and wish we had the foresight to have a poo jug, too.

Whatever the madness might be about, the tournament is the only TV sports spectacle that rivals the Super Bowl in terms of sheer scope and magnitude. Read on for some of my humbly absurd TV tournament predictions.

The average person will fill out three brackets: one that picks all the lower seeds, so in the event of an upset, he can brag about calling it, one with picks based solely on the teams' records, and the last consisting of the exact opposite of every pick that guy from work who keeps referring to himself as "The Bracket Guru" makes.

Yes, someone at your work will call himself "The Bracket Guru." When you mention to him that most gurus don't own bean-bag chairs and live above their parents' garage, he will inevitably cite himself and The Fonz as the exceptions that prove the rule.

Couches across America will unite to strike against immeasurable degrees of sloth and lethargy. A spokesman for couches will issue an official statement saying, "Dude, I can't take much more of this. I'm dealing with almost criminal levels of girth, and equal amounts of stench and surprisingly voluminous bodily fluids. Sh*t's gotta stop!"

The term "camping out on the couch" will take on a whole new meaning when you literally build a blanket fort around your couch and television to insulate yourself from the coming nuclear winter.

ESPN will inundate you with "Bracketology" -- the science of talking out your ass like you know something, when in reality, you were the last player off the bench on a co-ed CYO team. By the time April rolls around, you will be begging for Brett Favre to take another picture of his wang just so you can hear about something else on SportsCenter.

Despite its amazing lineup of shows like: 'Party Heat,' 'Ma's Roadhouse,' 'Bait Car,' and 'Lizard Lick Towing,' truTV, a CBS tournament broadcast partner, will finally crack the coveted 17-viewer threshold.

With so many games to cover and comment on, CBS and its partners (TNT, TBS, truTV) will be forced to enlist obscure analysts and commentators no one has ever heard of, like Tim Brando, Spero Dedes and unemployed actor Jon Cryer.

If you don't yet know who Gus Johnson is, you will soon, as his commentary has the uncanny ability to make fourth-quarter free throws feel like the last thing between the human race and extinction.

If you haven't had the joy of meeting Dick Vitale, be on the lookout for the old, yelling bald dude teetering on the edge of a catchphrase-induced stroke before he's immersed in a vat of petroleum jelly and stored until next season.

You will want to punch whoever wrote the song 'One Shining Moment' as much as Chris Webber will actually punch every jackass that steps to him with a "time out" joke.

If you do not fill out a bracket, choosing rather to enjoy the spirit of competition and athleticism that the tournament represents, representatives from CBS and ESPN will arrive at your house at 2am and hold a boom-box over their heads blaring 'One Shining Moment' and AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' on a loop until you relent.

Even though the names and faces change with every year, the tournament will still give you the same amount of excitement and hype, buzzer-beaters and blow-outs, elation and disappointment, "Dorito burn" and pizza chafe, "Oh my God's" and "No he di'int's." Happy Bracketeering!


Dr. Vaughan teaches English/media/humor courses at Binghamton University in upstate New York, and he loves bagels. You can also check out his blog or find him on Facebook.

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