The 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament is underway this year.
At first glance, “March Madness” seems the same this year; brackets being busted within the first early games, students and coworkers crowded around TV screens and laptops at either school or work, and many wishing they hadn’t bet any money.
But this year, ever so subtly, something is different.
For Americans these days, everything seems to have to do with politics. Award shows have turned into political stages, where famous celebrities have not been afraid to speak their mind. Advertisements and tv- shows have increasingly turned to political satire. These days, politics dominate the headlines, and it is clear that in today’s America, every act can be considered a political act.
Sports, for the most part, has usually been an escape from the politics of the world. The idea of people getting together and either watching or playing a game they love is essential to the American culture. Sports is a release for most people – something that people watch or play just to have fun.
But recently, even the world of sports has become increasingly political. From athletes protesting the national anthem, to several NBA and NFL players criticizing the president, and arguably the most famous athlete in the world campaigning for Hillary Clinton, sports has stopped becoming the “release” from the other pressures of the world.
This is why, this year, March Madness is ever so important.
The tournament is a reminder that, even in this ever so partisan and divisive world, we can still all come together and watch basketball.
For the next month, Americans will not have to hear an anti-Donald Trump speech inside a stadium, but rather, they can watch the best colleges in the nation face off in the biggest tournament of the year.
We’ll jump up and down and scream when the team we have picked to advance hits a game-winning shot. We’ll cover our faces with our hands and berate ourselves when the college team we support is eliminated. But most importantly, we’re going to enjoy a sport for what it is supposed to be: fun.