St. Patrick’s Day, 2012. The Madness has begun, and bracket-busting games play out their meaning. ESPN’s Stuart Scott had this to say on March 17 about the men’s tournament thus far: “So that bracket sheet you have, just turn it over, and you have a piece of scratch paper or you can write a note to someone you care about.” Yes, don’t we say it at all levels of sport, in all sports, “That’s why you play the game!” If the team that is ranked higher ALWAYS wins, then the games really wouldn’t be necessary, would they? That’s where the ideas of Sportuality ring true, when teams can muster enough belief in themselves, their teammates and their program and even their school – faith if you will – in something greater than themselves, and they can hold that collective thought for an entire game, or even through an entire tournament, as we saw in 2011 with Butler and VCU. These teams are playing “inspired” and “conscious” ball. So inspired that people want to watch and catch that inspiration. That common breath, as Sportuality defines it.
So what about the joy in these games? The TV cameras and producers do their best to show the extremes of joy and pain of the winning and losing teams (admit it – how many times have you been moved to tears of joy or pain with them?). Sportuality explains the concept of “empathic joy” that allows you to feel those feelings of joy. The hardest part of empathic joy is if you are the one who is supposed to be feeling the pain. Take note over both the men’s and the women’s tournaments of these moments, and realize that there is a neutral point where the joy and the pain in the arena reach a happy medium. If we can remove ourselves from the “us vs. them” (or competitive) mentality and attach ourselves to the joy of the games rather than the outcome, this idea of March Madness will actually become a great national inspiration. And it will no longer be “insanity” or “madness” but sportually, we will finally be in our right minds.