March Madness

March 19, 2024 by

 March Madness

By John Schorling

 March Madness, as the NCAA basketball tournaments are frequently referred to, is here again.  The fields have been chosen, and a favorite team may have been selected or not, leading some of us to feel either happiness or disappointment. Now, over the next three weeks, many people will be focused on their brackets and their favorite teams, perhaps to a state of madness.

Madness has a number of definitions according to, at least two of which might apply now.  The first is intense excitement or enthusiasm. This is how many people feel during the tournaments, especially watching their favorite team, or a team that is important to their bracket.  Another definition is senseless folly. This might be how people who have no interest in basketball view the whole affair.

However we view March Madness, as is the case for anything that elicits strong emotions, it can be an instructive time to pay attention to our present moment experience.  If we really get caught up in the tournament, we can notice the emotions that arise- happiness or even elation when our favorite team wins, sadness or anger when our team loses.  We can be aware of emotions arising, and notice how we don’t actually choose what emotion is present, that it is elicited by past experiences interacting with current circumstances.

Given that 68 teams start the tournaments and there is only one men’s and one women’s champion, most fans are going to experience disappointment along the way.  If we do experience disappointment, we can notice it, perhaps with kindness as feeling disappointed is not easy.  We can also notice the thoughts that arise.  We may go over the game and think about how things could have gone differently, how players or the coach could have done something differently.  Although our thoughts as we experience and are aware of them are in the present moment, the events we are reflection on are not.  Despite wanting things to be different, nothing we can do now can change events in the past. Wishing an outcome from a past action were different than it is does not make it so.

Thoughts, like emotions, also usually arise without any effort on our part, and it is easy to get caught up in them.  This is especially true of negative thoughts. When we pause and notice our thoughts, we might choose to let them go, to not feed them by going over and over again what happened.  We can let them go, they may come back, and we can let them go again.  With time, our experience will change, and will likely become less intense.  The same thing is true if our favorite team wins it all and is the champion.  The elation we feel after the final win will also change over time.

For someone who has no interest in the tournaments, this time can also provide an opportunity to notice the emotions that arise.  Perhaps there is annoyance or judgment over so many people getting caught up is what seems like a trivial event. Or maybe there’s no emotion at all as life just goes on.

Whether our view of March Madness is intense excitement or senseless folly, it’s a great opportunity to pay attention to our present moment experience without judgment, either of ourselves or others.

Filed Under: Monthly Musings