This is my favorite time of year. The month of March is filled with final conference tournaments and broken hearts; anxiety and the Selection Sunday Holiday; a Monday spent printing off millions of brackets and replacing dried out highlighters; faxed/emailed/copied/saved brackets; a St. Pat’s Day thrown in to relieve the pressure, then basketball, basketball, basketball.
I was handed the torch of bracket manager by my father about twelve years ago. With the help of CBS Sportsline’s Bracket Manager , my life has become a little easier, but not by much. No, I don’t carry paper brackets jammed into a legal envelope everywhere I go for three weeks. Or a purse brimming with colored highlighters and red pens. And I don’t have to remember where I hid all of the bracket money the weekend of the Final Four. But I still spend many hours in preparation, emailing reminders, sending out invites, manually adding the brackets for those not yet online (yes, they are still out there), and gathering the entry fees.
But I believe there’s a new bracket manager on the horizon. The torch will soon be passed to this future bracketologist:
This is Andrew Bye, the future of bracketology. He is six or seven years old, I can’t quite remember (don’t forget, I have about a hundred cousins) and he is the one who will take the torch and run beyond where I have been treading for twelve years.
Let me tell you a bit about this young sports genius. This young man began filling out brackets when he was three. His own bracket. Instead of cartoons before he heads to school, he watches ESPN’s Sportscenter. But he doesn’t just watch, he listens, he absorbs, he learns. And on the weekend’s he checks the newspaper listing for the locally televised sporting events and picks the ones he feels are most important to view. Oh, and he checks the scouting reports.
This is one serious little sports dude. And woe to the adult who thinks they can argue with his tiny steel-trap of a sports mind, he’ll have none of that. You might as well give in to the fact this pint-sized Jay Bilas knows more than you about whether Notre Dame can keep their home streak alive or if K.U’s big men will get into foul trouble against a smaller, quicker opponent.
And he’s serious. For example, he’s leaving for a whirlwind trip to Disney World but was more concerned about getting his bracket in than packing his swim trunks. His second concern was whether they were showing the Big Dance in Florida and would he be able to catch the games in between chats with Mickey and teacup rides. The kid’s got his priorities.
All I know is as I entered his bracket manually into the CBS bracket manager, I smiled, knowing his picks were more thought out and much better than mine. My hope is Andrew will earn a degree in broadcasting and land a spot on ESPN, replacing Joe Lunardi as the Bracketologist. Nothing could make our family more proud.
But for now, I wait for the day Mr. Andrew is sending me a reminder email or knocking at my door to pick up bracket fees. I know the day is soon, very soon. Perhaps when he is an older and wiser nine-year old.