I never win anything even remotely related to skill or the ability to analyze complex data sets to project a likely outcome. Gave up on sports wagering years ago after – finally – coming to the realization that I sucked at it. Could never even begin to understand horse racing and handicapping odds. Nor could I fake the slightest understanding of a daily racing form …
Recent years I gave up on one of my last remaining weaknesses … the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament brackets (for entertainment purposes only). I have always enjoyed the tournament, especially the early rounds where upsets lie in deadly ambush. But winning “entertainment purposes” from my finely honed college basketball acumen?
Not gonna happen …
Funny how most people I know rarely ever watch pre-March Madness college basketball, yet they believe they can reasonably predict the end result of the sport’s 66-team, rabidly emotional, magically unpredictable, championship-determining tournament.
I was one of those wackadoodles once; but it hasn’t been the same for me since 1992.
That was the year the East Regional was held in Philadelphia’s Spectrum. It was the year of Duke, Kansas, UCLA, and Ohio State as the top ranked teams. It was the year Michigan made the run from a 6-seed to runner-up, losing to Duke in the National Championship game.
It was the Year of Christian Laettner.
Normally the NCAA Tourney was just a reason to spend several afternoons in a public establishment amply equipped with televisions in the company of friends. But in the early rounds of the 1992 tournament bracket I was en fuego! As the Round of 32 ended, I realized I had a pretty good bracket collection going … through no fault of my own.
As luck would have it, I had ridden Michigan as my surprise entry into the Final Four. I had the potential – with a Kentucky win over Duke – of having three of four Final Four survivors! (Kansas and Ohio State having been ousted earlier by University of Texas – El Paso and Michigan respectively.)
So, like any other stat geek with a finely developed obsession common among baseball fans and fantasy sports addicts (Guilty x2), I spent hours analyzing the various permutations and likely results from the conveniently supplied Excel spreadsheet provided those like-minded “entertainment purposes” fans who had ponied up the $10 donation.
And I quickly realized that if Kentucky won its Regional Final matchup against Duke, I would be in the primo “entertainment purposes” driving seat heading into the Final Four and almost unbeatable due to a significant “entertainment purposes only” point lead!
I was on top of the world!
And then this happened …
For a more rounded, less suicidal (mine) version of this History of Misery event watch Ric Bucher‘s video report of The Carnage that left me with a nervous facial tic for years whenever I glimpsed the basketball floor at the Spectrum.
Of course, I don’t really hate Christian Laettner. I simply hated what his exceptional skills on the court contributed to my wakening realization that fortune did not await me as the result of my keen sports betting insight.
So yes, I guess I hate Christian Laettner for saving me untold fortunes in the 20 years or so since.
It’s a complicated anti-relationship!