The League

Cameron Smith

Cameron Smith

Producer and Blogger for The Washington Post

There's only one madness


Sure, the scramble for final NFL playoff positions can be intense, but it's not March Madness (copyright NCAA, CBS, CocaCola and 384 other corporations). Why, you ask? It's a simple game of numbers and the underdog.

The NCAA tournament is bedlam, 32 games in two days (and that's just for starters!), with at least 5-10 upsets thrown in for good mix. As sure as you can be of an outcome, you're guaranteed to blow at least two of your predictions. Anarchy prevails -- at least for the first couple rounds -- and teams and personalities that fly completely under the radar emerge as genuine national sensations. One need look no further than Davidson's Stephen Curry for proof of that.

Those hidden teams and stars are precisely why the NCAA Tournament captures the nation's attention each spring like no other Thurs.-Fri. stretch of the year. Work productivity slumps, brackets and torn apart and somewhere, a little campus in North Carolina, Washington state, California, Indiana or even suburban Washington, D.C. exhalts in the triumphs of their stars.

In the NFL, there ARE no underexposed players. By simply getting to the NFL, an athlete is already on the nation's radar, plain and simple. The stories of teams fighting for the playoffs are dominated by a familiar refrain; win and pray for a fellow contender to slip up. When those two factors coincide, NFL games in December can be magnetic.

Yet that's the only storyline that emerges as particularly compelling at the end of the NFL season. What else can a fan look for? Which team will finish with the worst record? Sure, but Schadenfruede only brings a small modicum of satisfaction. Which team will win a division? Playoff positioning -- even when it's as valuable as it is in the NFL -- is still just a tease, and an overly academic one at that.

Consider the scarcity of games that have a significant impact on the future playoffs (Ten games, maybe?) and this isn't even a toss-up; it's an absolute, 2007 Patriots vs. Redskins-style blowout.

All of these reasons for a definitive March Madness edge, and we haven't even gotten to the deep-seated love of one's alma mater, as opposed to the generally arbitrary bonds of pro sports fandom. The final month of the NFL season is exciting, particularly in a time of increased parity, but it's no March Madness. Just ask CBS, CocaCola and the 384 companies that shell out near-Super Bowl money to advertise over the first weekend of each spring's tournament.

By Cameron Smith  |  December 10, 2009; 9:04 AM ET  | Category:  NFL Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: NFL dominates | Next: Happily Extreme

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company