NCAA Tournament Bracket Contest Idea: Terms and Conditions

Here’s an interesting thought: to use iTunes, I have to sign a legal document acknowledging that I agree to Apple’s terms and conditions. I don’t pay for iTunes and I can’t make money off iTunes, but I still have to sign my personal rights away to use it. The same is true for all kinds of things: student loan payments, cell phone bill, anything I do online. I have to sign paperwork I don’t read for all sorts of things that just plain don’t matter.

When it comes to the NCAA basketball tournament brackets, everything matters because the currency of the contest is pride. The pride of having the balls to predict the big upset. The pride of unparalleled loyalty to your alma mater result in forfeiting hundreds of possible points. And of course, the pride of being officially smarter than everyone in your friend or work circle. The whole reason we have the basketball tournament is to create bragging rights for a small group of people everywhere. The sports are more or less irrelevant, because we don’t care about these athletes and these teams, we care about how we look compared to our friends.

1221952_to_sign_a_contract_3NCAA bracket contests, like lotteries, produce more losers than winners. However, unlike lottery winners, bracket champions are emboldened by a sense of superior intelligence that rubs everyone the wrong way.

How do we fix that? For the good of the people, I propose we introduce a Terms and Conditions document that each pool can implement to avoid the social damage created by  producing a winner. Here’s my suggestion:

NCAA Bracket Contest Terms and Conditions

I, the undersigned, being of sound mind and body, hereby acknowledge that my entry into  this NCAA bracket contest will must result in an outcome determined significantly more by random chance than by any type of superior knowledge expressed on my behalf. If my collection of picks is fortunate enough to be calculated as the winning collection of picks, I hereby decree that my role in the entire ordeal was, at its absolute largest, irrelevant.

I legally forego my claim to have discovered a method of choosing NCAA Tournament games that is superior to alternate methods selected by my competitors. Under penalty of law, I will not vocally claim “It’s crazy how I won, because I’ve ever seen a basketball game in my life,” or any other such statement that could be construed as such, no matter how loosely translated.

I acknowledge that a statistically significant portion of the games that constitute the aforementioned tournament will be determined by less than a single possession and the outcomes of those specific games are, in reality, dependent upon an imprecise cocktail of shooting percentage swings, officiating margin of error, unpredictable injury, imperfect location maintenance, irrationally hormonal adolescent athletes, recruiting violations and an entire range of causes I can’t possible comprehend when making a selection. I also hereby acknowledge that subsequent games involving teams advancing from those contests should be discounted allowing to the previous list of confounding variables.

I legally recognize that my understanding of each team’s capabilities is influenced far more by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee and season-long rankings systems than any of my own original ideation. I will not claim to have picked a winner based on arbitrary criteria like mascot or color scheme when everyone knows perfectly well that the committee tells all bracket contest participants which teams are better than others before any games are played.

I understand that, though the athletic outcomes of the upcoming three weeks may be kind to my predictions on this occasion, if the same teams full of the same players and coaches were to gather in the same stadiums to play again, it’s unlikely that I would have any idea what was going on .

________________         Date:

PS: While we’re at it, I will never refer to the first four games as the “first round” and the next 32 games as the “second round.” The tournament doesn’t start until there are 64 teams left.