To the 64th power

There’s a 7.2 trillion to one chance that you’ll get every pick right.

Still, that hasn’t stopped anyone from pouring over the most mystical of sports traditions, the 64-team tournament bracket, a spider web of hope, branching out from the center like veins from the heart, pumping competition like blood and scanned for blind bets and sure things like a CT device.

For some, each match-up holds a myriad of possibilities. Selections are based on a compound interest from the past round’s picks, crossed out and scribbled upon as if the right combination might somehow unlock something magical, like the meaning of life or the answer to some long forgotten prayer.

Others treat the bracket as a once-a-year novelty; a Cadbury egg, a glass of eggnog, a scoop of cranberry sauce. To them, this is a chance to join the masses. To feign interest in sports. To throw a few bucks into the pool and see if the experts can be toppled.

There’s a 7.2 trillion to one chance that you’ll get every pick right. Yet, that hasn’t stopped anyone from trying. And even though every year we fail – every year we stupidly pick a 13 seed over a proven 4, believe in the magic of last year’s Cinderella or outthink the obvious – we forge into the bracket again and again.

We can’t help it. Because someday, one of us will be right. We’ll scoff at their luck. We’ll cry foul, searching for whatever cheating methods they used. Eventually, we’ll all begrudgingly congratulate them.

And then we’ll start again.

This was lovingly handwritten on March 20th, 2008