Massachusetts Daily Collegian

COMMENTARY | Dear Obama, March Madness holiday please?

By Jeffrey R. Larnard

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I have a proposal for President Barack Obama.

Award all serious fans of college basketball the Monday following Selection Sunday until the end of the first round of the NCAA Tournament off from all duties. This will be a time when they have no obligations other than college basketball and filling out their brackets and watching the two most thrilling days in sports.

There are no wives or girlfriends ‘- or husbands and boyfriends for the females out there who take the most exciting thing in sports seriously ‘- no kids, no work, no school. Nothing except brackets, statistics and way more ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU and ESPN the Ocho than anyone should consume in one week.

Obama has already pushed for a playoff in college football so why not this? And I know he would love to be relieved of his presidential duties for a week to make sure his bracket is in tip-top shape at noon on the day the madness begins. He did take the time to go on ESPN and fill out his bracket, so you know how much he cares.

Isn’t our economy going down the drain? Yet he could spare time to go on SportsCenter? Just asking.

But he may be on the right track with using his presidential powers in the sports world. Come on, many people in this country know more and probably care more about college football and March Madness than they do about the economy, even if it means they will lose their job.

Now, here is why I think this is needed.

First off, on the two days of the first round, no one does any work in his or her cubicles. CBS builds a button into their video player to make an Excel spreadsheet pop up so workers can hide the fact that they are watching the games all day. If I’m not mistaken, over $1 billion was lost last year in productivity due to the tournament. What is the point in having them even work?

Second, it creates tension between loved ones. For me, personally, the University of Massachusetts picks the most inopportune time to put its students on spring break. While most other schools across the country have spring break during the week of the conference tournaments, UMass gives us the following week every year.

This is unfortunate for me because I have a long-distance relationship and that means that entire week is spent with my girlfriend. But she doesn’t understand how much the tournament means to me and the bragging rights at stake.

So that is why I was finalizing my bracket between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. the day the tournament began. And by finalizing it I mean, not putting nearly as much thought into it as I would have liked.

I did spend the first few days after the bracket was released working on a bracket based on the cheerleaders of each school ‘- check it out on the sports blog at dailycollegian.com ‘- as a fun thing for the blog (ok and for myself). I got my girlfriend to help out with it and told her I wanted her input just so she would put up with me spending hours looking at hundreds of cheerleaders and not mind that I was spending time doing that instead of paying attention to her.

Well she quickly got annoyed with it anyways ‘- and understandably so ‘- and had heard more than she ever wanted to hear about brackets. So when I woke up late because I didn’t go to bed until 5 a.m. and I was late for the plans we made, I was careful not to tell her I was up all night working on my tournament picks.

It’s just better for the two of us.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my girlfriend and want to spend time with her as well, but unless you are serious about March Madness like so many in this country are you just can’t understand. She’ll tell me we only see each other every few weeks. And I could respond: ‘Well, March Madness comes just once a year,’ but I don’t think it would work.

For me, I change my mind on my brackets constantly. The first bracket I put out looks nothing like the one I finished with.

Now if UMass just moved its spring break to the same week as most of the country, then I could spend that week with my girlfriend and then skip my classes the following week to work on my bracket. If UMass did this it would help me out somewhat, but what about the millions of other people who participate?

That’s why it is up to Obama. He’s preached change, and here is a perfect opportunity for it. Plus, former president George W. Bush left him such a hole to dig out of, he may need the extra votes come 2012 for reelection and here is a perfect opportunity for a couple million. He’d sure get mine.

Jeffrey R. Larnard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at jlarnar
[email protected]

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