Wick Communications

How’s your bracket?

In Ideas on 19 Mar 2010 at 8:29 am

You have it, don’t you? You are ready to post up, you have numbers and your sixth man has crazy hops… You have the March Madness.

OK, maybe you don’t. Maybe March is just the month that comes between a frigid February and an awesome April as far as you are concerned. But I guarantee that there are a whole bunch of readers in your market who live for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this time of year.

I know. We don’t all have elite basketball programs in our backyards. So we can’t write about Kansas or Kentucky or Syracuse. But consider the tournament as a cultural phenomenon. Look beyond the games:

  • How’s your bracket? After the tournament’s very first day, mine looks like Swiss cheese. I once wrote a story about how deputies at the local sheriff’s office kept an elaborate, albeit low-stakes, tournament betting scheme … in violation of the law. Can you find small-scale betting operations in your community? Any church groups selling squares to the tournament? How do they reconcile that with their higher purpose? Are there any teachers using brackets to teach probability, geography or something else through the prism of sport? One research firm estimates 45 percent of working Americans are filling out a bracket at work. There has to be a story there somewhere…
  • Does anyone graduate? The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport has come out with its annual graduation statistics for tourney schools. There are a half-dozen elite schools that fail to graduate even a third of their players. Talk to local coaches and educators about that. What is the impact on young players in your community when their hoops heroes fail to live up to the scholar-athlete title?
  • Got any dunkers in your town? I bet you do. Type your town and “dunk” into YouTube. You might be surprised what you see. While we’re talking about video, why not do quickie 10-second “Who’s your pick?” man-on-the-street videos?
  • What is Saturday like at your local sports bar? You could do a ticker sort of thing with vignettes from throughout the day. How is that guy at the end of the bar doing?
  • Can the network handle it all? What are local companies doing to prepare for the lack of productivity and sheer computer needs of idle workers working on nothing but their brackets over streaming video all day long. Think I’m kidding? The official CBS feed has a “boss” button so you can watch the games and pretend to be working when The Man walks by. (Not you! Get back to work…)

Sports events like this are cultural moments. The Louisiana papers did a great job with unusual New Orleans Saints angles in the run up to the Super Bowl. This is another chance.



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