Perfect Imperfection

by Rich on March 19, 2018

Two and a half weeks. That’s how long March Madness lasts. That’s 13 work days (if you include Friday as a work day, which personally I do not). Two and a half weeks. Sixty-four teams, four regions. One Champion. It’s insane. It’s clinical. It’s controversial. It’s traditional. It’s beautiful. It’s ugly.

It’s perfect.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament that we know as March Madness is truly amazing. It’s amazing because it is all of those seemingly incompatible things intricately woven into one gorgeous masterpiece. Even the non-basketball fan can appreciate the symmetry, the logic of it. Even non-sports people acknowledge the excitement of the tournament. Is it really perfect? Well… there we are in a gray area. How gray? To quote one of my favorite movies, “Fletch”…charcoal?

March Madness is perfect in its imperfection. Every year there are questions about who gets in and who doesn’t. Who has a better resume? Who deserves to be there despite the resume? That’s the controversy. But that’s also part of what makes it perfect.

The NCAA tournament is not a computer program. It’s not a video game. It’s real life. It’s the minutia and randomness that we all deal with every day played out on the hardwood for 40 minutes (granted, it’s more like two and a half hours, and the last 2 minutes move slower than the line at the DMV). It’s stories. It’s David versus Goliath. It’s chess and checkers and horseshoes and hand grenades all rolled into one. That’s why it’s perfect. Because it’s amazing and different every year.

Of course, the downside is that the best, most deserving teams don’t always get in, much less win the whole kit and Kaboodle (sidebar: I know what a kit is, but what in the name of Pete is a Kaboodle??). That’s painful for the teams that believe they deserve a chance to play. It’s torture for their fans. But again, that very imperfection, that sense of question and unknown is what makes March Madness so exciting. Imagine watching a movie where you knew going in exactly how it would end? Even if you liked it. Even if you thought it was the best movie in the world with your favorite stars, if you watched it every day, it would lose its luster. So yes…there are years when deserving teams don’t get in. There are years when the best team doesn’t win it all.

But that is sports. That is life. That is what makes everything so interesting. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen. And while I complain every year when my bracket gets busted after the first twenty minutes of game play, I would want it any other way. It’s very much like being on a roller coaster. You get on and know that there will be ups and downs and loops and a scare or two along the way, but you also know that it ends. It doesn’t last forever. It takes you for a ride and then deposits you back at the platform, safe and sound.  Sometimes the ride is exhilarating, sometimes you get sick on the first loop-de-loop. But when it’s over, you get back in line. Why?

Because it’s two and a half weeks of roller coaster and you don’t get to go to the amusement park every day. It is, in a word, perfect.

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