March madness: get your brackets ready!

Jerice Banola, Staff Writer

Epidemics are rare. However, when they do come, they hit like a truck, engulfing the majority of the population. No epidemic is as consistent as the sickness that comes around March and is nearly incurable without large doses of basketball — March Madness.
According to senior Jordan Amen, March Madness can only be treated with significant exposure to basketball games, more specifically college basketball.
“March Madness brings tons of young athletes together to compete,”
Amen said. “It’s comparable to the Super Bowl with how much attention it receives.”
Originating as a high school basketball event in 1973, March Madness has evolved over the years to include the entire nation rather than only the state of Illinois after a dispute between the NCAA and the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) gave the IHSA the right to the name at the highschool level and the NCAA at the collegiate level in 1996. This event has captured the hearts of millions of basketball fanatics.
“March Madness is my favorite sporting event,” junior Nicholas To said. “Seeing all those talented athletes work tirelessly towards the same goal just excites me.”
Today, March Madness is one of the biggest sporting venues. According to Kantar Media, the Super Bowl remains the most successful sporting event, hauling in $1.23 billion in 2014, with March Madness a close second at $1.13 billion, and the NBA Finals at $904 million.
“It’s ludicrous how much profit the NCAA makes off of student athletes,” junior Rajan Nathaniel said. “It’s even more absurd when you realize the athletes don’t get a single nickel.”
Apart from the revenue that the NCAA brings in, viewers also tend to place their own money on the line at a chance to win a fraction of what the NCAA makes. According to the American Gaming Association, Americans bet a total of $9 billion in 2015, far more than what the entire tournament brings as a whole.
Despite the revenue and money tossing this event brings, it does come with its flaws, namely worker productivity. According to Challenger, Gray, & Christmas Inc., approximately $1.7 billion is lost due to unproductive work time as employees study their brackets and stream games while at work.
The monetary and lost productivity aside, this year’s tournament may prove to be the most electrifying, with numerous freshmen leading their teams and several being NBA-material.
“Lonzo Ball and UCLA are my team to watch,” To said. “His ability to govern the floor and pick his spots are unparallelled at the collegiate level.”
Other students choose to go the more conventional route by favoriting teams with more success in recent years.
“Don’t count my Jayhawks out of this,” junior Randy Cabral said, referring to University of Kansas. “Their talent will carry them and prevent any upsets this year.”
Being two of the 32 teams that won in their conference championships, both Kansas and UCLA are automatic bids for the tournament. The rest of the 36 teams (for a total of 68 teams in the tournament) are chosen by the selection committee through intense research over which teams deserve a chance to be crowned collegiate champion.
Nonetheless, March Madness has truly enveloped students at Bear Creek and undoubtedly the rest of the country. The start date — March 14 — couldn’t have come any sooner.