Gauntlet Sportspinions

By Derek Neumeier

March Madness and Britney Spears are eerily similar and say more about our society than you probably think.

For those of you who fall into either the category of knowing absolutely nothing about sports or nothing about pop culture, “March Madness” is the colloquial name given to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament held annually every Mar. and Apr. Pitting the NCAA’s best against one another, 64 teams figure into a bracket where single elimination sees the field whittled down to the final four. The contest of the final four then produces, among other things, drama, highlight reel plays, crushed dreams and the crowning of the­–theoretically–best team in college hoops. Alternatively, Britney and Kevin: Chaotic was a short-lived reality television series staring Britney Spears and rapper/dancer/all-around cheeseball Kevin Federline. Set against the backdrop of her European tour, the show follows their initial goings-on and subsequent marriage–all in an easily digestible five-episode run. On the surface, these two things appear to have nothing in common. One is the largest college sporting event in the western world, while the other shows the fairly mundane goings-on of an ill-fated marriage. You see, Britney and Kevin and the NCAA tournament go hand-in-hand because they have come to symbolize everything that Canadian society wants and needs.

Consider this: every year, regardless of how top-heavy the tournament is, there is at least one team that upsets the favourite in the opening round and goes on an improbable run to the elite eight or final four. Last year, it was George Mason. This year it appears Stephon Curry and the 10th-ranked Davidson Wildcats are the tournament’s sweethearts. Everyone pulls for them to pull off upset after upset and overcome long odds to become champions. Kevin Federline was the Davidson of potential suitors to a then-young and vivacious Britney Spears. Overcoming long odds, he got to where all men wanted to be. As Canadians, we love the underdog story. If we didn’t, no one would ever care about the Maple Leafs, as they are the perennial hard-luck losers of the National Hockey League. Individually, we all want to be the person who rises above our natural position in life and succeed beyond everyone’s wildest dreams. It is an instinctive desire. Thus, we as a society appreciate the Davidsons and K-Feds of the world.

What can we learn from the NCAA tournament and, to a lesser extent, the Chaotic series? Well, probably nothing. But maybe, just maybe, we can see a reflection of all the values we share as a Canadian society in it. We all pull for the underdog team because we see so much of our dream in those young men trying to beat the odds. So next time someone says their bracket got busted by some team that had no right winning, remind them they are being very un-Canadian.

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