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March Madness strikes Niles High School

Published 9:02am Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Niles High School students Karon Nichols, Taylor Shepard, Myles Busby and John Schrader discussed their love for March Madness during their lunch period Tuesday afternoon. Busby holds a bracket printed in the Niles Daily Star. (Daily Star Photo/AARON MUELLER)
Niles High School students Karon Nichols, Taylor Shepard, Myles Busby and John Schrader discussed their love for March Madness during their lunch period Tuesday afternoon. Busby holds a bracket printed in the Niles Daily Star. (Daily Star Photo/AARON MUELLER)

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

It’s that time of year. One might be clued in by the crowded sports bars, the sports fanatic at work calling in sick all week and the exchange of money at the water cooler.

It’s March Madness. Thursday begins the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
But it’s not just Jim in accounting wasting company time to fill out his bracket. March Madness is a sickness that anyone can contract.

Students at Niles High School are no exception.

Sophomore Myles Busby, a forward for the Niles varsity basketball team, says it’s a different atmosphere in the halls during tournament time.

“I talk so much trash with my friends,” he said. “There’s this guy who loves Notre Dame. He’s always telling me Kentucky sucks, because he knows I love Kentucky. Me and him, we go back and forth all the time.”

Freshman Taylor Shepard said she likes how everyone gets fired up about it.

“I love how people have so much spirit about it,” she said. “Just because it’s March Madness everyone is all happy and upbeat.”

Since early round games often take place during the school day, Busby has a solution.

“I have a couple of computer classes, so I can look it up on ESPN every five minutes,” he said. “And most of my friends have this ESPN ticker that sends them a text message, telling them who is playing and the scores.”

And it’s not just the students whose minds may drift to the hardwood during class time. Busby said some teachers will allow the games to be on while students do school work in the classroom.

Shepard said one of her teachers has been particularly excited about the tournament.
“She’s always talking about Michigan State, talking about how they’re going to go so far. She was talking about it all the way up to March,” she said.

Even students who are not huge basketball fans show interest this time of year.

“I don’t really watch during the regular season, but I just like it because it’s tournament basketball and it’s fun to watch,” sophomore John Schrader said.

One of the main reasons people follow the games so religiously is to see if the predictions they make in their brackets are right.

How people makes those predictions is completely up to them.

Busby does his research.

“I like to analyze things, take my time. Since I’m such a huge fan of college basketball, I usually go on what I know about the team and how they play,” Busby said. “How their style of play goes against how the other team plays defense.”

Others’ picks are more random.

“I just go on my gut feeling,” Schrader said.

He also said he is going with his favorite team Notre Dame to make a surprise trip to the final four.

Others need a little extra help in making their picks.

“I like doing it based on what my friends say,” freshman Karon Nichols said.

Busby, Schrader, Nichols and Shepard all had different teams they liked to win it all. But strangely, they all predicted Kansas St. to make it to the Final Four. Basketball fantatics take note.

Feeling distracted?
This year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament will cost U.S. companies $1.8 billion in productivity, according to a study by Chicago outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

The company blames much of the distraction on March Madness on Demand, CBS’s online streaming video player that will show every game.

Last year March Madness on Demand sucked in 7.52 million unique visitors, 92 percent of them watching from work computers.

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