The number one most frustrating activity in which I participate is golf. Whoever had the idea to spend a day whacking a little ball in every direction but toward the hole deserves to be put in solitary confinement. In Alcatraz.
The number two most frustrating activity in which I participate is probably one of the most enjoyable ones — filling out an NCAA bracket. Each year I decide that I am uniquely qualified, based on how much basketball I watch and read about, to predict the outcome of the tourney. Yet each year my brilliant upsets fall by the wayside as nervous freshmen miss free throws.
My can’t-lose-lock suddenly loses its cool like Tom Cruise on Oprah.
The redeeming value is that the bracket is never truly busted. I definitely blew it by predicting that Washington would be the surprise team in the Final Four — yes, I know, I’m an idiot. But I still have a chance to predict seven of the Elite Eight, three of the Final Four, and both finalists as well as the champion.
Which means that I have to keep watching every soul-melting minute of the rest of the tournament. Just in case.
Therein lies the beauty of the tournament — it really isn’t over until it’s over. Or until UNC loses and half the country cries. Even the most busted brackets can redeem themselves with a little luck, and the most solid ones can fall apart overnight. In a tournament of one-game series, anything can happen — to the teams in the tournament as well as to my sanity.
There’s no greater theater than March Madness. Human emotion mixed with hoops combined with compelling story lines built on shattered dreams. The nation bets on it, follows it, skips work (or high school history class in 10th grade) to watch it. Is there anything else that holds a similar appeal?
Yes. One sport has a tournament that people don’t follow as closely, but contains all of the compelling storylines, last minute drama and upset potential of March Madness. It’s something that, I’ll be honest, I never thought about watching until this year. I’m talking about the NCAA hockey tournament.
This year’s tournament has its share of stories. The marvelous run of Notre Dame hockey to the No. 1 ranking in the country. The up-and-down season of potentially dangerous teams like Cornell, which can lose to the worst of teams but has also shown an ability to skate with anyone.
Then there are the upstarts from New Haven. A traditionally middle-tier Yale team predicted to finish seventh out of 12 in the ECAC at the beginning of the season completed a dominant run to the regular season and tournament championship, earning a number two seed in the East Regional that they will co-host.
Yale’s campus is going crazy over this rare event —by New Haven standards, at least. The Bulldogs are part of a major sports tournament, poised to make a run deep into the tournament, and gearing up for (hopefully) a second round contest against traditional powerhouse Michigan.
Yet the school, which has always been willing to give out money to students through jobs and which has funded most good ideas thrown its way, has completely dropped the ball. By making only 200 subsidized tickets available to students, the school has abandoned its athletic program and failed its student body.
With the coincidence of a Yale team making something as major as the NCAA hockey tournament and also the proximity of the location where the games will be played (Bridgeport, Conn.), it is a truly missed opportunity that the University and Yale Athletics can’t put together $25,000 to subsidize another 500 tickets. Yale should be rallying the student body in support of one of its most successful sports season of the last 40 years.
Yale never sends teams or students to football bowls, because we don’t participate. Yale hasn’t made the NCAA basketball tournament since 1962. So Yale is definitely not tapped out in terms of spending some money to ensure that its students can attend major athletic events. It needs to get behind the hockey team. Success breeds success, and fan excitement leads to a better base. If Yale wants to make the renovation of Ingalls Rink pay off in terms of future success and ticket sales, it needs find a way to get the student body to these games.
And I need to find a way to save my bracket.
Collin Gutman is a junior in Pierson College.