A respite from March unemployment madness

Fear the turtle, and possibly other reptiles

Fear the turtle, and possibly other reptiles.

I’m halfway through my fifth month of unemployment. Some days are better than others; some days are worse. Some days are productive, and some days feel like a big, fat waste of time and energy. And some days I struggle to get out of bed. Ever ride a roller coaster that isn’t much fun, makes you vaguely ill and never seems to end? The scariest thing is that I’m kind of used to it. But today is different.

March is a damn fine month to be unemployed if you like college basketball. The individual conference tournaments ran last week, and the NCAA tournament starts today. 48 games will be played by Sunday, and more will follow next week, the following week and through early April. CBS – the station that broadcasts every game somewhere – might as well change its name to “collegiate basketball station. Only one game airs at any given time, though every game is available online for anyone who has a PC or an Intel-based Mac (that is, everyone in the world except me). It’s basketball overkill… death by sports. Still, death by sports is a hell of a lot better than death by job search, or death by death. Death by chocolate is pretty good though.

For all of my years unemployed, this is my first time not having a job in March. I used to watch the games online over lunch at my desk, and then leave the browser window open in the background while I work. The audio play-by-play was enough to follow along and cue me to click over for important moments. Apparently millions of other people do the same sort of thing…

It’s tempting to watch NCAA basketball at work, but be cool

Last March, 92% of those who watched games online did so at work. The CBS site comes equipped with a [boss] button, likely for that very reason. My guess is that overall viewership and the share of that viewership watching at work will both shrink this year. NCAA basketball isĀ  pretty damn important, but not worth getting fired over. Professional football on the other hand…

As tradition dictates, I filled out my tournament brackets. If employed I would have entered an office pool for $5 only to lose to someone who isn’t positive the game of basketball isn’t played with sticks and skates. Picking the games is largely a crap shoot, even for those who follow college basketball. So many teams are evenly matched. And almost any team not seeded #16 can win if they get hot at the right time. That kind of potential excitement is why we watch. My brackets are pretty conservative, with a few upset picks. I won’t get it exactly right; something crazy always happens.

I was most interested in watching the mighty Terrapins of Maryland take on California today. But CBS insisted on showing Connecticut vs. Chattanooga. Connecticut is a #1 seed and Chattanooga a #16 seed. In the history of the NCAA tournament, a #16 seed has never beaten a #1 seed. Sure enough, halfway through the first half, they cut away to my preferred game and stuck with it. The last score I saw had CT up by 40 points.

Maryland beat California pretty handily, which is exciting. They’re one of those teams that’s hot at the right time. I have them picked to beat Memphis on Saturday, but that won’t happen. I’m just being a homer; Memphis is a much better team. Still I welcome the distraction of rooting for an underdog. It feels appropriate these days, and there’s the chance they could win. That’s why they play the game, right?

Fear the turtle!

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One Comment

  1. TPM wrote:

    Unemployment Dreams by Thomas Patrick Maguire

    Friday, April 3, 2009 at 9:34 pm | Permalink