March Madness – Identifying your symptoms

The end of March brings along with it the largest national basketball tournament in the country and an emergence of chronic widespread temporary insanity. Commonly referred to as March Madness, this disease sweeps through colleges and workplaces during the end of March and early April, then seems to disappear once a school has claimed the title of national champion. Although a temporary disease, March Madness can have extreme effects, especially on the students at schools involved in the tournament. Signs and symptoms of March Madness include wearing school colors, face painting, excessive yelling in front of a television, and furious research into school tournament brackets.

The onset of the disease begins in early March when teams qualify for the tournament by winning games of basketball and being selected by a selection committee. While there has not been a direct correlation found between basketball and March Madness disease, as basketball can be played all year round, it appears that the combination of basketball and spring in the air brings about the Madness. Once a team has qualified for the tournament, an overwhelming number of cases of March Madness appear. Every year, 68 schools are infected in mid-March, narrowed to 64 schools which will go on to become bracketed teams. Mines caught the March Madness fever in early March when intramural sports opened up a bracket competition, fueling the Madness.

Brackets are distributed by news sources and schools to help spread March Madness. Students choose who they think will be the best teams and win individual games all the way to the team who will win the whole tournament out of 68 starting teams. What many fail to realize is that March Madness affects judgment and students often think they know how games will be played and who will win. This debilitating effect often leads to brackets with predictions such as the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles winning the tournament. With 9.2 quintillion variations, one has a better chance at making an accurate bracket by picking which mascot would win in a fist fight instead of looking at the actual skills of the teams. This fact only fuels the Madness and adds to the development of school favorites and passionate fans.

The disease matures as the tournament begins in late March. School spirit fever hits with a vengeance and school colors start to pop up everywhere along with team paraphernalia. University bookstores are over run with orders of tee shirts, flags, and temporary facial tattoos, all in hopes of the favored team winning. This surge in school sales is part of the reason why no one has started searching for a cure. March Madness brings attention to schools students otherwise would not have known about and highlights their ball playing skills.

Students also feel overwhelmingly compelled to make cross country journeys to see their favorite team play. Where better to wear school colors than courtside at a game? Some students even spend the night outside of the stadiums, infecting everyone within reach with March Madness. For those who cannot make it to games, they can be found glued to a television watching every moment of game play. Classes are skipped for big games and homework pushed aside. Grades often feel the effects for a few weeks as the Madness runs rampant through campuses. For the fortunate few, occasionally professors will catch the disease and allow class to be dismissed early.

After a short reign, March Madness resolves itself around early April when a victor is declared. Students go back to wearing normal clothes, the face paint is removed, and televisions turn to baseball as basketball season comes to a close. It is important to remember that March Madness is not a harmful disease. It will self-resolve within a month’s time. The best remedy for it is lots of cheering, eating hot wings, and access to instant game updates.

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