The madness of March

By Mark Gorte
off the record

After the New York Giants surpassed the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI and the football season came to an end, sports fans started circling the next big date of the calendar: March 13. More commonly known as the beginning of March Madness.

There are 64 teams and six rounds, which means that it takes a total of 63 games to determine a champion. Having so many games not only means that basketball fans are preoccupied with the excess amount of matchups, but it also results in a lot of opportunities to compete with friends.

“It’s the best time of the year,” junior Drew Cassidy said. “After you analyze the matchups and fill out your bracket, you’re constantly wrapped up in basketball for the next month. What else could be more fun?”

With the tournament rapidly approaching, talk over who is going to win starts to circulate around DHS. The constant debate over who will be holding the trophy at the end sparks some debate among fans. And some of the dedicated college basketball followers use statistics and personal beliefs to support the team that they chose.

“I have Kentucky winning, and at least three teams from the Big 10 in the elite eight,” senior Blake Appell said. “Kentucky has too much size and depth that other teams just can’t match.”

One of the biggest issues of debate isn’t about who is going to end up winning, but the upsets from lesser known schools that can make or break someone’s bracket. But for some, seeing more obscure teams compete is a positive.

“March Madness is the best time of the year for basketball fans like myself,” junior Gavin Groszek said. “There are exciting college games on every day, and I get to see teams that aren’t normally talked about get a chance to compete with some of the bigger names in college basketball.”

A common tradition that has grown to be synonymous with the March Madness season is the competitive bracket. A bracket allows people to choose which teams will go on to the next round, or which teams will be knocked out of the tournament. Some who fill out these brackets participate in larger groups, where each person gives a certain amount of money to be added to the pool. Whoever’s bracket is the most accurate to the actual tournament wins the money. However, what many are not aware of is that such practices are considered sports gambling, and participants can face misdemeanor charges amounting to a $1,000 fine or up to a year in jail for as little as a $5 bet.

One student who is relatively familiar with the tournament’s annual brackets is *John. Along with being an avid follower of college basketball in general, John participates in a pool each spring along with several of his friends. However, he and his friends don’t invest a lot of money into the pool.

“A bunch of guys and me just give like five bucks into a pool,” John said.

Some students that create or participate in these March Madness pools come up lucky and at the end of the tournament and end up with more money than they originally put in.

“I think it was last year when I started a bracket with a $20 buy-in, and I had about 20 people who bought in,” *Joey said. “I ended up winning, so yeah I think that it was a pretty good idea to start it.”

However, some students are not so lucky and ending up losing their hard earned money by placing bets on the wrong team.

“I’m not sure exactly how much money I’ve lost, but I’ve lost a lot,” *Josh said.

Most students at DHS are not loaded with money, so it means that a majority of them have a limit on what they are willing to bet. Whether students are betting on March Madness brackets for the money or just for the fun of it, March Madness is the center of the college sports world and for the next few weeks it will dominate not only the television, but also the hearts and minds of basketball fans all over.

However, the potential consequences of this season sometimes go unacknowledged. Despite this, basketball isn’t the only sport that bets are placed on. All around America, small and large bets are being placed on more than just horse races, but other sports like hockey, football, soccer and even tennis. Based on the statistics from www.ncpgambling.org, 44 percent of twelfth grade males reported waging on sports at least once in their life. And an upwards of 80 percent of high school students report having gambled for money.

Also, sports betting is the most popular form of gambling among youth 14 to 22. Nearly a quarter of males bet on sports in an average month.

Although many choose to use March Madness as an opportunity for making a little extra cash, some choose to avoid the potential ramifications of gambling and enjoy the season for the sport itself.

“All I look forward to is to watching some basketball,” junior Matt Deshone said.

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