President Donald Trump has earned the title Master of Diversion.

When an unpleasantry needs covering up, he simply tweets something outrageous. But even tweets cannot trump Russian monkey business, travel bans and unhealthy health care any better than bracketology.

That’s whiplash you hear — heads spinning from Washington to, ultimately, Phoenix.

In the spirit of transparency, I am a wild and crazy college basketball fan, and not solely for the sport. I enjoy watching the players, their interaction with coaches, parents in the stands (or not), the humanity, the grace, the joy, pathos and connection to a school the game engenders.

Duke, my alma mater, usually fields a team of destiny, riddled with drama, delivering the highest highs and abysmal lows. But I also follow all ACC teams, especially N.C. State, Wake Forest and UNC.

So I should speak at least broken bracketology, right? I don’t, even though President Obama called it “the new American pastime” and Slate magazine maintains that 45 percent of Americans fill out brackets.

Yeah, like 5 million people attended the inauguration, where no rain fell. Not a drop.

Common sense tells me that only sports professionals have a handle on the 68 teams competing in the NCAA Tournament. How can anybody with a life know how the Providence Friars stack up against St. Mary’s Gaels? Northern Kentucky’s Norse against South Dakota State’s Jackrabbits? What do Middle Tennessee State’s Blue Riders ride? Which Rams squad has the better foul shot stats — Rhode Island or VCU?

I’ll grant this: The tournament — hyped a la Super Bowl — raises awareness for lesser known schools while teaching a geography lesson and selling beer.

The first elimination tournament took place in London in 1851. The game: chess. Wimbledon adopted the format, and the rest is history — a kinder, gentler history when the NCAA had only 32 teams.

That was 1977, birth of the first bracketology pool in a Staten Island bar. Now, money changes hands in office break rooms, book clubs and golf foursomes, not to mention Vegas.

Except Vegas betters don’t care a whit about the teams, only the odds or the spread or whatever works.

I don’t fill out a bracket. I’ll follow Duke and UNC until the final sneaker-squeak but leave the rest to my frenzied fellow 140 million Americans.

However, without trivializing a serious issue, I do see a correlation between bracketology and the American Health Care Act, with which it now competes for ink. Scan a bracket. You’ll see slots, each representing a team, sort of like the health care repeal-revamp points that kept one House committee debating for 15 hours, resulting in 60 amendments.

Other federal agencies are just as fractured as they seek to score a win from multiple eliminations/additions. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s convoluted, 30-minute televised roll-out reminded me of a corn maze with no exit — or a game with endless overtimes.

Worst, I couldn’t place myself in any of the groups he identified. So I still don’t know how the act will affect me — if at all, if it ever passes, in whatever form.

At least Ryan has the deal down pat. Trump is vague, avoids specifics, assures us that the new plan is “the greatest.” How can I believe hearing that my Medicare-based insurance is secure from a man who denies raindrops or imagines James Bond tapping wires at Trump Tower? A man who refuses to fill out a bracket, let alone pick a winner? A man who’s petulant when March Madness leads the evening news?

BTW: Obama’s just-released bracket has Duke playing Carolina for the championship, with UNC cutting down the nets.

See? He’s not such a bad guy after all.


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Comments that violate any of the rules above are subject to removal by staff.

Thank you for Reading!

Please purchase a subscription to continue reading. Subscribe today and support local community journalism.

Digital Only Subscriptions

Thank you for visiting and supporting award-winning community journalism. Not everyone wants to have a newspaper delivered to their home, but they want to keep up with the latest news in Moore County. Click here to gain digital-only access and support local journalism.

Starting at
$1.07 for 1 day

Connect Print Subscription to Digital Access

Thank you for visiting Your Pilot subscription entitles you to unlimited digital access. Simply log in. From the home page, click on Subscription Services. Then click on "Pilot All Access Print Subscribers." It should show your phone number . If so, click "Sign Up." After a few seconds, it will take you back to the home page. Log out, then log back in. You're set! For any problems, call our customer service number at 910-693-2487 or 693-2488.

Free access for current print subscribers