There are two times of year when I am sorta, kinda a sports fan.
One is during the World Series. Sometimes. Depending on who got in.
The other time is during the NCAA men’s Division I basketball tournament — but only if I’ve filled out a bracket.
If I haven’t made predictions, I’m not interested.
I used to never do this, until back in the late 80s or early 90s, when one of my reporters — I’ll call him “Charlie” — had a pool going, and nagged me to enter it. I told him I didn’t follow college basketball, and didn’t know anything about it. He said to enter anyway. He really, really wanted my dollar.
So, I filled one out. Here was my method — if it was a team that was big back when I was in college (such as UCLA), I chose it to win. If it was a school I had some vague connection to (such as having lived in Kansas briefly), I chose it to win. If it was a Catholic school, such as Georgetown, I chose it to win. When two of those factors came into conflict, I had a decision to make, but I didn’t spend more than a second making it.
And you know those little numbers next to the teams in the brackets, the ones that tell you how the teams are seeded? I didn’t know what those meant, so I ignored them.
I won the pool, in large part because — contrary to the conventional wisdom of the sports fans — I picked Duke to win all the way (in keeping with Rule 1). The sports fans in the pool found this very irritating. Every day during the tourney, I’d come in and ask Charlie how I was doing. “You’re still leading,” he’d growl between clenched teeth.
I won $26.
Since then, I’ve joined pools a number of times, but never done nearly that well again. I have not spent more than $26 total over the years, so by my method of rationalization, it’s not gambling. As long as I stay under that, I’m ahead — I can’t lose.
But today, I realized that the tourney proper starts at noon, and I haven’t filled out a bracket. Worse, I don’t know of a pool anywhere to join.
But I filled one out anyway, and I’m publishing it here, to give myself some kind of stake in the outcomes.
Note that I still sorta, kinda follow my three rules — except now I do pay some attention to the seeds. You’ll see that I have my alma mater, the former Memphis State, going to the Final Four. And since Wichita State was seeded No. 1, and I used to work in Wichita, I had it going to the final. But then I realized that I had broken the fourth rule, the one that doesn’t even need to be stated — Duke always wins. So I had to do some scratching out.
So we’ll see how I do. Please share your predictions as well. If I’d thought of this early enough, I could have set up a sort of non-pool blog pool, so we could compete to see who had the best predictions.
Maybe next year.
So you didn’t enter the Warren Buffett Billion Dollar Bracket challenge? All you have to do is predict every game correctly and Warren (and Quicken Loans) will hand over a billion.
Dang! Denied! Once again, I narrowly miss out on a vast fortune.
And I really could have used that billion. Unlike most, I have a carefully thought-out, published plan for what I would do with great wealth.
My learning of this just barely too late to enter conclusively proves that you are wrong and Bud is right about the role that luck plays in the accumulation of wealth… 🙂
Luck is winning the pool, skill is making sure you have more than a billion left ten years from now.
Oh, I don’t know if I would have more than a billion after 10 years. I might — but in any case I’d have so much left that it wouldn’t matter.
The great thing about having such a vast fortune is that I could risk millions on such things as trying to discover the new business model for news organizations. It would involve a lot of trial and error. But a billion would assure me that I could enter upon bold experiments without worrying about my family doing without because of my risk-taking…
We should all keep an eye on those newspapers Mr. Buffett has purchased. I’ve talked to people at those papers, and they have this wonderful room to operate because they know they’re not going to be sold, and that they’re part of an organization that doesn’t have to borrow money to make investments. They can concentrate on trying to produce a better product without constantly looking over their shoulders for the wolf…
“The great thing about having such a vast fortune is that I could risk millions on such things as trying to discover the new business model for news organizations. It would involve a lot of trial and error. But a billion would assure me that I could enter upon bold experiments without worrying about my family doing without because of my risk-taking…”
And that’s the difference between you and a person capable of building something out of nothing. There are people with very special skills and traits that allow them to turn nothing into something huge versus turning a billion dollars into something less. Anyone could do that. Ref: Navin Johnson, The Jerk.
Some might call Mark Cuban (billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks) “lucky” because he sold his company to Yahoo at the peak of the internet craze twenty years ago. But it was the hard work he put into getting himself into that position AND the work he has done since to expand his holdings that make him different from you and me. He was willing to take the risk because he believed in his ideas.
I lost track after voting for Melissa Block over Terry Gross….
Oh, different bracket…
I’ve been unable to successfully pick a bracket since the burning of the library at Alexandria.
Well, my bracket’s busted for Buffett’s Billion already: Pittsburgh beat Colorado, Dayton beat Ohio State, Harvard beat Cincinnatti; everything else is still intact with Florida, Syracuse, Michigan St, Wisconsin and Oregon advancing.
I used the Wall Street Journals Blindfold Bracket to make my picks; I didn’t know what college teams I was choosing to advance. It’s an annual tradition for the WSJ to produce Blindfold Brackets. It takes the bias out of consideration.
I have Florida, Virginia, Arizona, and Wichita State in the Final Four.
Ha! I picked Pittsburgh and Harvard in the first round… But I also picked Ohio St.