Nerve-racking excitement is about to begin for several sports fans as the 2017 NCAA men’s basketball tournament gets underway today (No, no one really cares about the “first four” games played earlier in the week).
According to ESPN in 2015, nearly 40 million people filled out brackets for the highly publicized tournament with most filling out more than one. An estimated 70 million brackets will be filled out for the tournament.
Wow. With the odds of guessing a perfect bracket at 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808, it is understandable why a non-sports fan can win a bracket by using the color or mascot of each team to predict the winner.
Those that follow men’s college basketball the entire season struggle with the off-paper intangibles of each team. Who’s hot, scheme matchups, game site adjustments, and personal issues of the players can not easily be quantified to pick a winner.
This causes hair pulling to no end as your darling No. 3 seed gets knocked off in the first round by No. 14 seed from the middle of Idaho. There was really no way to predict that upset as neither team played each other during the season or had a similar opponent that could show the strengths and weaknesses of the two teams playing in the tournament.
To be honest with the folks out there, my bracket is usually pretty bland. I don’t pick many upsets, I root for my favorite teams and I typically find myself sitting in the middle of whatever pool I am in. College basketball knowledge is not my forte.
Lately, there hasn’t been much time to fill out brackets. Rushing out the door early in the morning, working most of the day at the newspaper, run home for semi-quality time with family and have dinner, then it is back to the paper to continue working. Not a lot of free time to figure out whether Bucknell can beat West Virginia.
But I guess that is why the tournament is kind of like life — unpredictable and exciting.
One day you are fighting to make the tournament, next thing you know people are talking about the Cinderella story that is your triumph. Other days, you are a top seed that doesn’t expect the a hungry 11th seed to upend you. It’s just the way the ball bounces I guess.
Writing this column, I see my bracket vacant of ink and calling out for me to move Kansas deep into the Midwest portion of the bracket. The Minnesota Gophers are pleading with me to move them onto the Sweet 16. Notre Dame wants me to trust that the luck of the Irish will strike for more than two weeks.
I might have to resort to going with my gut…or with my favorite color.
On Tuesday, we interviewed West Central Area student Max Duncan for the Quality Toyota Sports Spotlight. Duncan is one of the numerous seniors that we have interviewed over the years about their future plans after high school and their upcoming or current sports season.
What caught me off guard was the young man’s discussion on virtual reality. It seems to me that he is looking into being a future creator of the ever expanding concept.
As someone who enjoys playing video games in what free time he has, I have yet to tackle the new VR offerings from the likes of Sony, Samsung and the like. The concept of playing games or watching a movie that is filmed in first-person perspective intrigues me.
When reading about the potential of virtual reality a few years ago, I related to the Nintendo’s Virtual Boy back in 1995. The red and black screen did not appeal to consumers and as a young boy, I could tell that I didn’t want to participate in something that was just a fad.
But with gaming moving away from the standard console and computer setup to mobile devices, I think virtual reality finally has a future. Graphics are improved, the companies understand earlier mistakes that they have made and this generation of consumers are more willing to adapt their play away from the standard game controller than ever before.
I’m excited to see that upcoming graduates are interested in advancing the technology.
Imagine the possibilities of a solid, well constructed virtual reality interface for the purpose of physical fitness. Someone could exercise by actually riding in the Tour de France, run the Boston Marathon or go on a destination hike. I don’t want people to think that the Nintendo Wii was the future of fitness, it was fun, but not necessarily the best form of exercise.
Even the possibility for someone that is physically disabled to experience the sights and sounds of climbing Mount Everest or surfing a giant wave. It just seems amazing.
Duncan spoke of advancing the technology in more than just sight and sound. When all five senses can experience a computer generated moment, that is when the real excitement will begin.
I also would like to mention the Nintendo Switch, a console that is both mobile and stationary, that recently came out. At the advent of mobile gaming on cell phones, I had discussed with several friends why the capability of gaming has not advanced to where you could play at home on your TV and then hit the road with your console in a portable version, playing the same game from your last save point. The Switch has finally allowed gamers the opportunity to play a game like Madden football or MLB The Show and not have to quit in between quarter or inning.
I know the last generation is critical of how much TV and video games that their children were playing, but the current generation of parents are looking at technology as a way to make life both fun and easier for their children.
Lastly, I want to thank several people for the outcry of support as I enter my new position at the Daily Journal.
I heard from people in the community that I have met only once to friends that I haven’t spoken with for several years.
I appreciate your well wishes and support. I’ve enjoyed the last week or so of new responsibilities, new obstacles and new fun.