March has come and gone, but it has left me reflecting on something – March Madness. In this “madness” colleges and fans all over the country vigorously follow along to the mantra of college basketball games, which at certain times occur almost on the hour, daily. Alumni, students, parents, prospective students, and even children eagerly follow their teams in the race to the number one champion. This year, those champions were the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, who beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 65-71 in the final game.
Before this year, I hadn’t followed March Madness much. However, this year something changed. I found that I had people in my life who were very invested in the event, and at first I wasn’t sure why, but as the month went on I found myself captivated by the games and the process, I was able to grow an understanding of the fans.
March Madness, believe it or not, brings people together. On every other day, students merely go about their individual business. However, big game days or events like March Madness, all of a sudden those individuals come together in enormous numbers. Whether they win or lose, they do it together. The winners will go out and everyone will celebrate, and the “losers”, well…they’re not alone. Instead of lamenting in sadness, they will most likely turn to cheering-back-up with fellow pals.
The community culture in sports is really quite special and unique. Likes and dislikes, like sports teams, can form relationships and stimulate communication between people. For example, I was at the local farmers market with my boyfriend once and he was wearing a Barcelona jersey. Three different people said hello to him and chirped something like, “sweet jersey!” in passing. Another little boy, who was wearing the same tell-tale blue and maroon stripes came up to him, and my boyfriend told the little guy he had a cool jersey and they fist bumped in unity. Now, he didn’t know any of these people, but because of the jersey, they found a common ground on which they were comfortable to communicate on, and that was really cool to me.
As we learn more about online communities in digital literacy class, I am able to identify a lot of similarities and characteristics that present similarly in things like sports communities. I think that communities help give people structure and identity, a strong sense of belonging. These feelings are essential to self-esteem, and one’s understanding of themselves. So get out there and find yourself in fun!