Quiz #2. March Sadness

March 15, 2020, Steve's Stay-at-Home Coronavirus

I’ve had a few tough breaks in life, but overall, I know I am very lucky. Oddly, however, I’m not that lucky when it comes to March Madness. I’ve been running elaborate NCAA basketball pools for decades--and the only time I cashed a check was 3 years ago when I submitted a bracket to someone else’s pool 3 weeks after I had brain surgery. (I didn’t host my own pool that year--the first year I’d missed running a pool since the ‘90s.) My problem is that I like upsets--and always pick too many or not the right ones. I am always trying to outsmart everyone else and am subject to what an old friend used to call “the Edward Scissorhand effect.” Maybe not thinking about it so much--and not trying so hard--had helped me finally win some money in 2017.

Still, for 2020, no matter what teams I might have picked, this year I had big--and yes elaborate and complicated--plans for my NCAA Pools. They were fueled, of course, by my love for Google forms. I had worked on the forms for weeks and, on this Selection Sunday, I’d planned on sending out a Google document with the rules and forms for the pools I was going to be running.

Here’s that Google form so you will know what you--and I--will be missing

Sports pools, and fantasy sports in general, are one way I keep in touch with friends across the country--and keeping in touch doesn’t sound like such a bad idea in these days of self-quarantine and social distancing. Many of these friends have been playing in my pools (and I in theirs) for decades. The odd thing is that I’ve never actually met more than half of them. Maybe we got connected because of a friend or a friend of a friend--but once you’re in, you’re in--and when Selection Sunday rolls around, it’s Christmas Eve all over again.

So, on this Selection Sunday, it’s bittersweet not sending out my invitation to NCAA Pools as March Madness gives way to March Sadness. Still, I’m sending this quiz around to the people I’d usually invite to play in my pools. You’re welcome to play along. There’s no money. It’s just fun and fellowship.


What did NOT happen?

A. In February, I got an email from a friend I’ll call Fred. He runs one of the most elaborate NCAA Pools on the planet. (It got written up in the Wall Street Journal.) I’ve played in it for 10 years, but I’ve never met Fred. He was emailing his people to let us know he would not be running his pool this year because he was facing surgery 2 days after Selection Sunday. I emailed him right away and offered him encouraging words, closing with one of my favorite lines from Sara: “The only way out is through.” He promised to send my pool invitation to his people before surgery;

B. Last month, I bought a “Get Well” card for Fred and filled it out with his address, leaving it on my desk at work. I planned on sending it out on the Monday after Selection Sunday (tomorrow)--but I am now working from home, with no access to my desk at work;

C. When the NCAA announced that the tournament was cancelled last Thursday, a friend whom I have actually met in person named Bill emailed me. He told me I was the first person he thought of when he heard the news that the tournament was cancelled;

D. When the tournament was cancelled, Fred emailed me again. He lives in Washington state and he wanted me to know his surgery was still on. I wished him luck;

E. Another friend we’ll call Andy, whom I’ve never met and who runs a funeral home in Pennsylvania, emailed to ask me to pay up. For 20 years, I’ve played in his Super Bowl box grid. I don’t pay him and we settle up after he joins my NCAA Pool. With no NCAA Pool, he (understandably) wanted his money. He doesn’t use Venmo.

Want the answer?

Answer #2. March Sadness

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Want more?

Here’s the next quiz in the series: Quiz #3. Two Weeks.

Here’s the first quiz in the series: Quiz #1. Stella and Social Distancing, March 13, 2020

The quiz is explained here: Steve’s Stay-at-Home Coronavirus Quiz.

Here is an archive of all the quizzes.

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