I grew up in Buffalo so it's no surprise that I enjoy watching football and hockey. My father is a big sports viewer, so I inherited it from him (as well as the shouting-at-the-television-when-my-team-sucks bit). Dad's not so much a hockey guy (though he'll watch with me), but he watches everything else -- basketball, baseball and golf. As for me, well, I just can't get excited about golf at all. Baseball is fun when my dad's watching a Yankee game, and I root for whoever is Not-The-Yankees (more so to antagonize him -- one of only a gazillion Yankee fans -- than for any true interest in the sport). I did get swept up in the Subway Series frenzy when I was still living in Brooklyn, but that's pretty much it. I've always enjoyed watching basketball, but I just never really followed it like I do football and hockey.
Having said that, I love March Madness. It's a short-term committment, and a bit of friendly competitiveness amongst pool-mates with a slight chance of a tiny bonus at the end of it (my crew is very low stakes). I never really knew what it was all about until law school, where most of my friends were guys, and almost all were college hoops junkies. On the rare days I actually made it to school (I confess, I was notorious for skipping classes), I preferred working in the lounge (if I didn't have enough time between classes to hunt out a coffee shop) than in the eerily silent library. When tourney time rolled around, the usually sparsely-populated lounge was transformed into an NCAA mecca, with brackets taking the place of Con Law and Contracts outlines. I happened to show some interest in what was going on, and of course every guy just had to educate me on the finer points of the sport, the tournament and their very strategically chosen picks. I bemusedly witnessed many a (sometimes rowdy) debate between these future lawyers over which conference was stronger, which team was destined to outlast them all and why. So I'd watch with the guys (infinitely more interesting than Federal Income Tax law, which reminds me - I need to get my taxes done), but I never got into the brackets.
I don't remember the exact conversation that got me started on the whole March Madness pool. I do remember that it was my friend Bob who hooked me up a few years ago. He had our officemates in a pool, and he likely boasted that he'd easily take my money, which would have been the no-brainer way to get me to ante up. Since then, I've always taken part, and I've really got the picks thing down to a science: Bob sends around the email opening up the pool. I promptly email Matt, my best friend's husband and avid hoops follower to get the scoop on this year's teams. Taking his comments into consideration, in conjunction with the teams' colors, any biases I have toward a particular school for this reason or that, and some minimum Google research, I pick away. Occasionally, I pull out all the stops and go eeny-meeny-miney-mo. I still have yet to win a pot using this method, but I know that my day will come, and I. Shall. Prevail. Heh heh heh.
I will miss watching the games with my dad this year, who is always in on a pool. That was one of the better parts of crashing with him and my mom the last couple of years, though I'm sure my mother would disagree! She was particularly amused (annoyed?) when Dad and I had different picks, and we'd be in each other's faces into the wee hours of the night. We had such great fun, Dad and I -- I just may have to call him every night to compare standings (my parents would love that, after having recently sent a guilt trip email chastising the little bro and me for failing to keep them regularly and frequently updated on our purportedly fascinating lives).
So, I've uploaded my picks ... wish me luck ...
... and beware the Ides of March!