One Shining Moment

 

We are in the midst of the greatest time on the sports calendar, mio primas:  March Madness.  Why so great?  Well, besides the two opening days being the closest thing to national holidays without being declared as such and the fact that its demographic stretches from 8 to 80, I can summarize in one word:  Cinderella.

printable-march-madness-bracket

We all know that Middle Tennessee State can’t possibly win the tournament and be crowned the NCAA champ (right?), but they knocked off a true Goliath in the sport – Michigan State.  Yep, the same Michigan State that 22.3% of you predicted to win the national championship, second only to Kansas at 25%.

This happens with great regularity with March Madness.  Not so much in our other favorite distractions from reality.  The top 4 teams in the NFL don’t even PLAY the opening round of their playoffs (they get a bye).  The top seeds in the NBA playoffs treat their opening round opponents like sparring partners – barely breaking a sweat while dispatching them to the off-season.  MLB offers a stern test for their playoff participants as the first round features best-of-five series, giving the weaker team a big-time shot at upsetting the favorite if they can steal game one or two.  In this sense it’s the second most compelling playoff thanks to this artificial construct of the 5-game opening round series.

But March Madness has something all of the others do not have:  The common occurrence of underdogs beating favorites, making it the most irresistible of sporting events for two key reasons:

  1.  Competition.  For the sports junkie who watches for the love of competition he/she is rewarded with 3 weeks of “anyone’s guess”.  Nothing better for a lover of competition to settle into a contest where the outcome is far from preordained.
  2.  Gambling.  The Golden Goose of sports – and March Madness offers it in droves!  The nature of Cinderella upsetting the field opens up the bracket to Vegas vets and kindergartners alike.  The bracket makes fools of experts and experts out of fools.  And that unites all of us together in gambling bliss.

Now the reasons for Cinderella’s preponderance in March Madness relative to other playoffs is pretty simple to understand.  In a “win or go home” format, stress levels are at their highest for the favored teams.  They have a very slim margin to square their play should they not come with their “A” game.  More importantly, most Cinderellas are your smaller schools whose players bond for four years as opposed to the blue blood programs whose players stay for one or two years before exiting to the riches of the NBA.  The camaraderie, loyalty, and cohesiveness of these small but peaking programs tend to outlast their more talented foes when games get tight … something that often happens in March Madness.  The viewing of which is pure ecstasy!

So buckle up and enjoy the ride… watch out Notre Dame, Stephen F. Austin is coming your way!

 

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TRUMP!

Vote!

While in the doldrums of the sports and entertainment calendars (post Super Bowl and pre March Madness; post Grammys/Oscars and pre another Kardashian naked photo), primatomma turns our attention to the Presidential primary race where we’re beyond the quarter pole.  And we can’t talk politics without talking about hands size and Donald Trump.

You can’t go 5 minutes on any news channel without hearing his name.  This is partly due to the outlandish claims made by or against him and partly due to him seemingly lapping the field with each passing primary/caucus.  Either way, the cutesy notion that Trump may emerge as the Republican nominee has been replaced with, “holy shit, Trump may be the Republican nominee!!!

Now we at primatomma have not yet offered our endorsement to any candidate on either side of the aisle; we’re withholding until the super PAC money flows our way.  But this shock and awe over Trump’s performance is no surprise at all; it’s the new normal.  Let us explain.

Politics is the last bastion of society to open up to the constituents they serve.  Our representative democracy has always been heavy on the ‘representative’ and light on the ‘democracy’.  But just like media has been losing their stranglehold on the news narrative thanks to the openness of the internet, same is now happening to the political elite.  That ruling class who were big on promise but small on delivery is losing their control of the dialogue to a new breed that is straight talking and – dare we say – accountable.

Super Pac funding and special interest promises have stagnated Washington.  Trump’s appeal is that he 1) speaks in plain English and 2) owes no favors.  Is he the best candidate?  Probably not.  But his appeal is undeniable and his supporters serve as a referendum that the landscape has changed.  That part of the electorate who has historically been talked over can no longer be disregarded.  They’re flooding the comments sections of news sites AND showing up at the polls.

It’s the natural progression where a major function of our society once dominated by elites who kept their covert inner workings obscured via legalese and backroom dealings are slowly but surely being ‘figured out’ and the anger is palpable.  They have one of their own in the Donald who diminishes debates to barroom banter which everyone understands.  While this may be the dumbing-down of America, it has also opened the floodgates of participation into the political process.

Let’s face it; while the system isn’t broke, it’s certainly devolving.  The Founders’ intent was a governing class formed from the people; successful professionals from a variety of fields who give years of service to run the country most effectively before sliding back to private life.  (e.g. Dr. Ben Carson. Say what you want but his run is historic by any definition.  To rise from obscurity – a Q rating below that of Screech from Saved by the Bell – to over 700,000 grassroots donors and, at one point, held the top spot of the Republican field is nothing short of remarkable.  Surgeon General would be a perfect landing for the good doctor.)  Today we have a professional political class who are motivated more by keeping their jobs than moving the country forward.

You can blame the lack of Congressional term limits and outdated tools such as redistricting gerrymandering and filibustering as needing serious overhauls.  Ever wonder why Congress receives nationwide approval ratings in the toilet yet individual states routinely award their reps the highest marks?  It’s because our Reps do what they can to siphon federal funds for their individual states that essentially set the country as a whole backwards.

And there you have it. While Trump may not be the best option for President, he is a change agent.  And isn’t that what everyone’s been wanting?  Obama came in with a flourish touting a new cooperative way to do business in Washington.  We didn’t know that would mean him usurping the very processes that were implemented to ensure separation of powers to prevent tyranny.  primatomma sure didn’t.