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Wait. What?! Madness.

March 19, 2008

an excerpt from the mom’s daily missive:

“Exciting time around here….we are all laboring over our NCAA tournament bracket.  I am sure you miss that.

I have to finalize my picks today and I am sooooo conflicted….Vanderbilt or Sienna?   Drake or Western Kentucky….my head hurts.”

Upon reading this, I turned to my Belgian coworkers and asked for their input on the conundrum facing millions: how to fill out the NCAA bracket. Do you go for a lot of underdogs? Play it strictly by the numbers? Pick the teams with the prettiest uniforms? Take the ‘alma mater’ approach and pick the schools that you, your parents and friends attended? (i follow the ‘copy off of Kelsey’ method)

I have never seen such vacant expressions. There might have been more recognition in their faces if I had asked the best way to pick between imaginary friends.

Male Coworker: “March Madness? Is this a sickness?”
Me: (well, sort of) “No. It refers to the NCAA basketball tournament.”
Male Coworker: blank stare
Me: “College basketball. 64 teams. Compete in March.”
Male Coworker: “I have never heard of this. We don’t have your college sports and I do not play basketball. I play football [soccer] and field hockey.”
Me: Wait. What?! Field Hockey?
Male Coworker: “Sure. We have matches every weekend.”
Me: blank stare.

The complete disregard and ignorance of my favorite sporting event of the year isn’t particularly surprising. American sports like basketball and football just don’t register here.  However – the lack of college sports and field hockey  as a popular men’s sport – huh??

Here in Belgium (as in the rest of Europe & the UK) there is no equivalent to the NCAA. University sports are student run and club-based. There are no college scholarships. No such thing as ‘student-athlete.’

I’m just so used to the American mentality where everything from Basketball to Crew to Meat Judging (seriously. meat judging. as described in this WSJ article, it’s worthy of it’s own ‘wait. what?!’ post) is obsessed over in the hope of gaining the holy grail – a college scholarship. This neutral attitude towards sports shocked me. How can they be addicted to their professional football teams yet nonplussed by ‘amateur’ college athletics? For me it is the exact opposite.

Like many of the things I am exposed to here, this attitude is not better or worse than what I am used to back home, it’s just different. And interesting. And something I will try to keep in mind when I am trying to convince my future children to wake up at 4am for Fencing practice  in hopes of getting an Ivy League scholarship…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    March 21, 2008 12:39 pm

    As to most rules, I think there is also an exception to this one. University rugby and rowing at the (in)famous Oxbridge institutions receive a lot of interest nationally. The so-called “varsity match” and “boat race” are nationally televised events in the UK. Otherwise, I concur. No one cares about college sports. Muppets.

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