Chris Bridges Mug

Chris Bridges

Years ago, a promotional tagline line for the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament was simply referred to as “They call it March Madness.”

It was as simple as it was effective and accurate in its description of perhaps the most exciting event in athletics, especially at the collegiate level.

For years the powers-that-be of men’s college basketball has had it figured out. Almost 70 schools qualify for the event with programs known, unknown, large and small, all getting invitations.

If you have ever been an underdog or even someone who has cheered for the underdog then this tournament is for you. While major college football purposely excludes the underdog, the basketball tournament does the opposite.

Most still remember Loyola-Chicago and the team’s improbable run to the Final Four in 2018. This year’s Loyola-Chicago team made it to the Sweet 16 and it was fun seeing the school back on the big stage.

This year we also had upstart Oral Roberts, a No.  15 seed, in this year’s tournament. The school is not known for big-time college basketball but this year’s team certainly displayed plenty of talent. Most of us were likely hoping that final 3-point attempt would have fallen for the Golden Eagles.

Many enjoy sports because there is always a chance for upsets. They don’t always happen, of course, which is what makes them so special when they do occur.

In boxing there was the epic upset of Buster Douglas over Mike Tyson in 1990. In pro football there are still many shocked at how the Bowl for the 2007 season. Older football fans still recall the New York Jets, led by Joe Namath, winning Super Bowl 3, seemingly against all odds back in 1969.

The Detroit Pistons defeated the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals (a sweep no less) a few years back when the team from the West Coast had dominated the regular season with several Hall of Fame players on its roster.

In Olympic glory, most Americans are filled with pride when thinking about the country’s hockey team winning against the unbeatable Soviets in 1980.

Personally, I will never grow tired of seeing David defeat Goliath.

While the top level of college football still has a way to go (the other levels figured it out years ago), college basketball is something that has been doing it right for decades.

It’s a stage where the big compete against the not-so-big and the mighty face the overmatched. The great thing about sports though is that games are not won on paper. They are not won on a computer. Each team has quality athletes, even the smaller schools, and seemingly everyone has a chance, even if only a slim one.

Thankfully we have the tournament back this year. “One Shining Moment” is back with us and once again gives reason for all of us to cheer for the underdog.


Chris Bridges is a columnist and former sports editor for The Walton Tribune.

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