It’s my favorite time of year: Basketball Tournament Season. As a college basketball fan, there’s nothing better than watching 32 games in the first 48 hours of the NCAA tournament.
And now that my kids are old enough to enjoy the fun, March Madness is that much sweeter. From Selection Sunday all the way through “One Shining Moment,” here’s your guide to watching the NCAA Basketball Tournament with kids.
Up until this point you may have ignored the so-called “expert” in your office talking about his NCAA bracket in the break room. But, now’s the time to listen up!
Find a bracket on the internet, print off several copies, and let the whole family join in the fun. You don’t have to be a fan or even know where the college is located to make your picks. In fact, nothing frustrates a true fan more than the casual fan busting their bracket. Once when my son was little, he chose teams based solely on the color of the team’s uniforms. My daughter nearly won our family NCAA pool the year she flipped a coin for every pick.
Whatever your approach, fill out a bracket. It makes the tournament much more entertaining to follow when family bragging rights are on the line. In our house, the winner gets to choose the restaurant for a meal out.
The Big Dance
If you ever get a chance to attend NCAA tournament games in person – do it! It’s a fun atmosphere and a great chance to see future NBA players while they’re still amateurs.
Last year Des Moines hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament and they held open practices for fans to watch. A group of us moms grabbed our kiddos and went for several hours. The players made it entertaining, the kids got a few autographs, and the moms looked like heroes – bonus!
Whether you’re doing it in person or from the comfort of your couch, now it’s time to watch! Last year, my teenage son invited five of his friends over for a March Madness marathon. They arrived for the first game’s tip-off at 10 Thursday morning and left after the final game ended at 11 Friday night. They were exhausted, but also had smiles on their faces and 32 games under their belts.
We set up several TVs tuned into the various channels so we could simulcast all the games at once. We drew the NCAA bracket on a big chalkboard in our kitchen and updated the board after each game. His friends had paper copies of their brackets spread all over the family room and were checking their CBS Sports and ESPN apps to see how their picks fared against fans across the country.
Between games they shot baskets in the driveway and dreamed of sinking the winning shot, becoming Cinderella themselves someday.
The competition really ramps up during the second weekend of games narrowing the field to the Elite Eight and then the Final Four. There are fewer games, but better competition. The stories shared between games about the athletes will inspire you and make you a genuine fan.
Food is always a good idea while watching the tournament. You can’t go wrong with popcorn, nachos, or hot dogs. Sit really close to your TV and you just might forget for a moment that you’re not actually there.
The way I see it, the NCAA tournament is much like motherhood. The goal is to survive and advance. Sometimes you get upset. Other times you do the upsetting. But, if you work hard and have fun, you just might be cutting down the nets with “One Shining Moment.”