Some people call it the greatest sporting event of the year. My roommates — seven girls who have no idea what’s going on and two who only care if the game involves Pittsburgh or Syracuse, respectively — have decided it’s a sickness after watching my behavior over the last week or so. For their sake, and any readers in a similar situation, I’ve assembled a list of the 10 warning signs that you might live with someone afflicted with March Madness.
1) Identification of high-risk individuals. First sign of danger: You live with someone who gets hysterical about Midnight Madness. No college basketball story is too small for them, whether it’s what Texas Tech head coach Bob Knight has to say about the new NBA age-limit rule or Tyler Hansbrough’s favorite musical group. (Insane Clown Posse?! Really?!)
2) Early warning signs. The more-than-casual fan crosses the line into obsessive-compulsive territory. Worrisome patterns of behavior may emerge, including hours spent studying offensive and defensive efficiency rates on kenpom.com and searching YouTube for high school footage of Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.
3) The beginning of the end. Conference championship weekend! What may have been a manageable part of the afflicted’s life takes over, as the person in question logs upwards of 20 hours in front of the boob tube in the space of three days.
4) The tipping point. Also known as Selection Sunday. Those possessed by the Madness give up any pretense of a normal life, devoting every waking moment to blogs and stories that might illuminate the secrets of the bracket and help them choose a winner.
5) Inability to recognize a problem. I had a brief moment of clarity Monday afternoon, when I realized I had spent about 15 minutes refreshing the ESPN.com home page in the hopes that Bill Simmons’ latest basketball blog would magically appear. The thought that this might be excessive behavior began to form in my mind … but I quickly shook that off. I’m just an extremely devoted fan, right?
6) Alienation of friends and family. Anyone who’s not a March maniac gets their called screened. Why waste time with people who want to talk about things like classes, spring break plans, going out, etc.? (Mom, I love you.)
7) The NCAA tournament is officially the central focus point of your life. Spring break actually becomes an inconvenience because it will take you away from American TV and means you miss the second round and the Regional semifinals. But I solved this problem! I’m giving my house key to friends staying in town so they can come and set my DVR. I’ve also decided to arrive at the Boston airport at noon so I can sit around and watch as much basketball as possible before my 9 p.m. flight to Ireland.
8) Irrational mood swings. Highs of delirious joy when you sign up for March Madness On Demand on ncaasports.com — now you’ll be able to watch every game not broadcast on your local CBS affiliate!!! Lows of absolute misery when you remember it’s your senior year and Cornell has gone 0-for-4 during your undergraduate years. (I’m not embarrassed to admit I actually cried. How many times? Well, that I’ll keep to myself.)
9) You find yourself alone at 12:25 p.m. on Thursday. But you don’t care, because who needs actual human contact when you have the TV in the living room tuned to CBS, along with the desktop computer in the adjacent bedroom where you can toggle between the MMOD and ESPN.com’s college scoreboard, as well as windows with each of your three brackets (ESPN, SI, and Facebook).
10) The Madness begins! Bliss … easily diagnosed because of loss of cognitive thought and inability to employ conversational English. But really, who cares? I’ve been waiting all year for this.
Olivia Dwyer is a former Sun Sports Editor. Forever Wild will appear every other Friday this semester.