Written by Andrew Tan and Jake Foster
With the college basketball season coming to an end, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) prepares to host the annual College Playoffs: March Madness. This exciting sports event, in which the round of 64 starts on March 17, has a wide following, and often produces many upsets. Because of the unpredictable nature of the tournament, fans go through the process of choosing the winners of each game and competing for the most accurate bracket. Thus, many who would otherwise have no interest in the basketball games become invested, because they want their brackets to succeed.
Junior Micah Shalowitz explained the appeal of closely following the college basketball tournament: “Since every game could make or break my perfect bracket, I try to watch [games] as much as I can, even if it’s during class. The tournament has games all day, and for some students, it becomes a distraction.”
March Madness can become a distraction during class because some students watch the games or constantly check for updates on their phones, instead of paying attention to the lecture. Although this is typically only a problem for the first few days of the tournament when games are going on all day, it proves to be a possible hindrance to classwork. Sophomore Coby Coberly shared, “Last year in Biology, we were doing a lab and half the group was watching March Madness… We didn’t finish.”
Sophomore Jack Schoenthaler also said he has seen students distracted by the games: “During class, the students would be checking live scores on their phones.” Because students compete with their friends with brackets, they become invested in games, which causes them to feel that they need to watch or be kept up to date about the scores, no matter the consequences.
While not a direct obstacle to students’ learning abilities, March Madness can slow productivity during the end of March. Many teachers who are also fans of the college basketball tournament acknowledge the distraction that March Madness may present to students; however, some also expressed that lower academic performance during the season of the tournament should not solely be attributed to the basketball playoffs.
Some teachers have said that they clearly notice when students are watching the games on their phones instead of paying attention. Jenny Uhalde, Western Civ and U.S. History teacher stated, “Usually just during the first two weeks of the tournament, we’ll be taking notes and I’ll be lecturing, and I’ll see the phones by people’s sides.” Particularly when she is not lecturing, however, she noted that “when they’re ‘supposed’ to be working on an individual assignment, there’s a segment of students, who have their phones out and they’re checking the games.” Though March Madness does not have a significant impact in student performance, it does cause a notable decrease in attentiveness, particularly at a time of the year when students might be less motivated to work as spring break approaches.
Mike Molieri, boys varsity basketball coach and Academic Resource teacher, is very enthusiastic about March Madness and recalled, “in the past years, some of the basketball players came into my room at lunch to watch the games.” Molieri explained that though the excitement over the basketball tournament can be a minor distraction to students at school, “with all the phones and technology, students are [inevitably] going to be checking the games when they start at 9 a.m.”
Some teachers embrace the idea that students care about the games, by putting the scores up on the board, or allowing students to have more break time to watch.
Because of smartphones, access to the games and scores has significantly expanded, meaning that the tournament has also become much more of a distraction.
If you’re not in class, check out our bracket below! Also, if you would like to submit a bracket and see how it compares to ours, join the M-A Chronicle Pool: https://tournament.fantasysports.yahoo.com/t1/group/164729