Have you heard about “brackets”, “NCAA”, “March Madness” and “basketball” recently? Well let me explain it, because there's more to moving to the United States than visas, and immigration, and tax, and attorneys… sometimes it's fun to go to a bar and know how to yell the right things at the screen!
So as you have probably already realized, sport here in the states is even more popular than in Australia and other countries around the world. Not only that but in addition to professional sport, there is also college sport which is arguably more exciting because the fans are REALLY into it.
College sport in the USA
Unless you've been living under a rock, you would have noticed that College sport in the United States is HUGE!
My favorite stat (that I tell people all the time) is that the biggest stadium in the world is North Korea's “Rungrado 1st of May Stadium” which seats 114,000 people. The second biggest stadium in the WORLD is the University of Michigan's “Big House” which seats 107,601 (not to mention #3 through #9 are also college stadiums – and number #10 is the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia).
So why do you care? Well, as someone new to a country it's fun to get on board and take part in some of the activities that happen with these sports. You don't have to obsess over it or watch it all the time, but sometimes it's fun to get involved, go to a venue to watch games with friends and strangers, and cheer and yell! In addition to that, there's generally an element of competition available to you with these friends and strangers (primarily because gambling on sport is only just becoming legal in many states).
So what exactly is March Madness?
March Madness (“NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament”) is the end of the college basketball season and where everyone goes crazy for basketball. 68 teams competing for the title, with lots of games and lots of excitement.
As the weeks progress, you'll see the teams be divided into the:
- First 4 – The first rounds of the tournament
- Sweet 16 – Those 16 teams who are left after knockouts
- Elite 8 – The top 8 teams in the country
- Final 4 – Two final games to decide the final
Pick yourself a team or two and start cheering!
NCAA Brackets and why they relate to March Madness
So what are these brackets?
Bracketology is the process of predicting the field of college basketball participants in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, named as such because it is commonly used to fill in tournament brackets for the postseason.
(I totally included that just because of “bracketology”).
In essence, it's just picking each and every winner of every game and getting points for getting those right during the postseason. It's a way of competing with friends and family and working out who knows the most about the college sport scene.
The rules of basketball explained by someone with a British accent
Where to watch March Madness in NYC
There are lots of bars in NYC that will be showing the game (as I said above, this is a big deal for many) so you'll have options at any sports bar. That being said, if you REALLY want to get into it, you can go to a bar that supports one of the teams playing. There are themed bars all over all major cities in the US which follow every game of a particular team, so if that team is playing know that it'll be a full house.
Just note: If you're at a bar that supports one team and you are wearing the opposition's colors/logos, it's not going to be a friendly place. Be careful, and don't be an idiot.
These places are going to be NUTS.
And as always remember… Go Blue!