Students ‘mad’ for basketball
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 02:03
Every year since he was in middle school, junior Cameron Jordan has repeatedly analyzed his basketball bracket each day throughout the month of March, checking where he stacked up with the competition in his bracket pools.
“Everything is so unpredictable and can change at any second,” Jordan said. “That’s why making the tournament is such a huge accomplishment for any team because it means they have a chance, they can be that Cinderella team that upsets everyone and goes all the way.”
The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, known colloquially as March Madness, kicks off in the middle of this month every year, culminating in a championship game in early April.
Featuring 68 teams and seven rounds of basketball, the tournament is one of the most popular sports betting occasions each year.
Jordan said he is an avid college basketball fan who looks forward to constructing a more accurate bracket than his friends. He said that while the entry fee is usually inexpensive, winnings can still be large depending on the size of the pool.
“The entry costs have been anywhere from $5 to $25,” he said. “I won my freshman year. It was $10 to join and I won $200.”
Susan Edgar, deputy director for the Delaware Council on Gambling Problems, believes the media drives people to gamble more during March Madness, but that’s not necessarily a downside.
“The media builds it up to be absolutely spectacular—when you watch TV, my God—every time you turn around they are hyping that it’s coming up,” Edgar said. “Most people gamble for March Madness because it’s fun, not because they’re addicts, but because it’s just fun and exciting and there’s a lot of anticipation.”
Edgar said March Madness gambling has not proven to be a major problem in terms of risk factors.
“Only a small percentage of people get in trouble with March Madness, but the people who get in trouble really, really get in trouble,” Edgar said.
Sophomore exercise science major Chris Revel said that he enjoys March Madness with a group of friends for two main reasons.
“I try to earn a few bucks and we do it just for fun,” Revel said.
He said gambling could be an issue for individual bracket participants, but also on a larger scale if athletes are betting on games in which they’re playing.
“For many people it’s a problem,” Revel said. “If it got back to players it could cause them to throw games, which would be a big problem.”
Sociology Professor Tammy Anderson, who has done some research on casinos and gambling, said monetary incentives are not the only thing enticing people to gamble on the games.
“I think financial motives are always part of any part of any gambling endeavor but they’re clearly not the only ones,” Anderson said. “Especially with filling out a bracket, it’s a good competitive nature of the U.S. spirit. [It has] become something entertaining to do.”
Jordan said gambling provides those who aren’t devout fans with a reason to watch and share the enthusiasm, which is valuable for the sport.
“My sister and mom have always done brackets even though they never follow basketball during the season,” Jordan said. “I’m sure for some people they only worry about the gambling, but for people who follow and like basketball they would watch even if they didn’t have money riding on the games.”
However, Anderson said she believes betting on March Madness can defeat the purpose of watching the actual games and detract from viewers’ enjoyment.
“That’s the risk with filling out March Madness brackets—they reduce the meaning of the activity and the whole tournament to be worried just about the dollar amount,” she said.
Edgar said she believes participants enjoy gambling for March Madness mainly because it adds a personal connection to the games.
“It adds the excitement to the game because it adds in the unknown, it adds the excitement of not knowing how it’ll come out in the end and how it’ll affect you,” she said.