Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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March 21, 2014

March Indifference is liberating

Well, I just watched Mercer University upset perennial powerhouse Duke in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and I’m remarkably calm. My mood was equally unaffected Thursday when Harvard beat Cincinnati and THE University of Dayton dropped Big Ten bully Ohio State.

As far as I’m concerned, it would be no skin off my knee if Mercer went on to beat Harvard in the national championship game, or vice versa. March Madness circa 2014 may as well be March Indifference to me.

For the first time in about 30 years I did not complete an NCAA tournament bracket with my predictions. That may not seem like a big deal, but my name is Michael and I’m a recovering NCAA bracketholic. I ran office pools for years. I filled out my first bracket the year Georgetown beat Houston for the title in 1984. I had Villanova losing in the first round in 1985. I had Indiana winning in 1986, 87, 88 and 92. One out of four isn’t bad.

I would print out 20 copies of brackets when I was a kid and spend hours completing them. Sometimes I’d pick entire brackets just by flipping a coin. Even Steven F. Austin has a chance in that format (Oh yeah, they just won, too). I simply enjoyed the reduction of it all, moving from 64 down to 1 with the elegant scribbles of pencil on paper. I even loved abbreviating the names as I moved them from line to line – “NOVA,” “HALL,” “WICH.”

I had rules certain hard-and-fast rules for making my picks. If IU was a three seed or above, I picked them to win it all, no questions asked. Kentucky, on the other hand, could be 40-0 and have LaBron, MJ and Shaq on their team and I would never pick to win the title. I called those morality clauses.

With no Indiana teams in the tournament this year, I just felt it was the perfect time to take a break. Although there were moments of weakness. With about 15 minutes before the games started on Thursday I was at The Goshen Chamber of Commerce Founder’s Day Luncheon at the Elkhart County Fairgrounds. At one point I picked up my phone and frantically navigated to the CBSSports website. If it hadn’t been for a poor WiFi connection and spotting cellular service at the time, I might have caved.

Not having a bracket has been liberating. I’m watching the games in a whole new way. I’m not tethered to arbitrary picks on a sheet of paper or computer screen. I root for who I want and when I want, sometimes changing allegiances midstream.

Is it better? Yes, but only because I know there’s always next year.

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Daniel Riordan has been writing for newspapers since he was 16. Previous newspaper stops include Warsaw and Plymouth. He joined The Goshen News in March 2013 and is enjoying getting to know the city. He has up to this point been able to resist any urge to watch cat videos on YouTube.

I am a journalist for The Goshen News in Goshen, Ind. I handle regional news and am the digital content editor.

Shelly Wilfong is the director of the International Baccalaureat Degree program at Goshen High School in Goshen, Ind.

David Vantress is sports editor at The Goshen News. He is a 1994 journalism graduate of San Diego State University. David has opinions and isn't afraid to share them.

Sam Householder is the chief photographer at The Goshen News. He is a 2010 graduate of Ball State University, with a bachelor's degree in photojournalism. He lives in Goshen with his fiancee, Ashley, and their cat, Rascal.

Roger Schneider is city editor for The Goshen News. He enjoys bicycling, fishing and photography.

Scott Weisser is entertainment and emergency services editor for The Goshen News.