Bag of Randomness for Thursday, March 21, 2024

  • A funny bit of parenting advice from a listener to the Ticket when trying to decide what a child can keep when it comes to spring cleaning – if you can tell me what is missing from your room, you can keep it.
  • My streak of never filling out a March Madness bracket continues. But I do get a kick when Obama releases his every year. But have you ever wondered when filling out a bracket started or became popular? I guess it depends on how you look at the question. When was the first time a sports or competition bracket came to be, and when did the NCAA March Madness bracket become popular?
    • According to Slate, the very first bracket in a sports tournament came in 1851 at a chess tournament in London.
      • With the city hosting the Great Exhibition for British technology, English chess master Howard Staunton set out to organize the world’s first international chess tournament. In order to whittle the 16-player field down to one winner, Staunton decided to make eight pairs, with the losers of each being eliminated from contention. Instead of seeding players to decide pairings (like the modern NCAA tournament), Staunton had each draw a random lot. After the first round, the eight winners drew tickets again for fresh adversaries, all the way to the championship match.
    • As for NCAA March Madness, here’s a ten-year-old Smithsonian article about it:
      • The first NCAA bracket pool—putting some money where your bracket is—is thought to have started in 1977 in a Staten Island bar. 88 people filled out brackets in the pool that year, and paid $10 in a winner-take-all format. At the same bar, in 2006, 150,000 entered, and prize money exceeded $1.5 million. So much money was exchanged that the federal government took notice, and the bar’s pool went on a hiatus*. But its history serves as a concrete example of the metoric rise in the NCAA bracket’s popularity from the mid-70s to today.
      • Have you ever wondered why the idea of filling out a bracket didn’t start until the late 1970s? Basically, there are two reasons: UCLA’s John Wooden and the structure of the tournament’s complexity.
        • By the 1950s, the tournament included 23 teams and nine byes, making the prospect of filling out a bracket even more confusing than it is today.
        • Through the 1960s and the 1970s, anyone with cursory knowledge of college basketball could predict the tournament’s winner. The UCLA Bruins were the tournament’s masters, winning 10 championships in 12 years, with their first coming in 1964. “The dominance of the Bruins was so powerful that no one was talking about seeding or anything because UCLA always won the tournament, so it didn’t matter where other teams were seeded,” explains Ken Rappoport, co-author of The Big Dance: The Story of the NCAA Basketball Tournament. With the tournament a virtual cinch for UCLA, people weren’t interested in trying to predict how the tournament would go.
        • “It changed for UCLA when John Wooden retired.” In 1975, Wooden hung up his clipboard, but that wasn’t the only major change to the NCAA tournament. The tournament expanded that year to 32 teams, creating a much more user friendly, symmetrical bracket.
  • Regarding what I just wrote about bracketology, I wonder if stuff like this is why you choose to keep up with this blog. Basically, something piqued my interest, so I researched it and wrote what I found most interesting. It’s a peak inside my brain and how I think. Some people are interested in that. Subconsciously, I think one major reason I created and keep updating this blog is I wish I had someone in my everyday life who cared about what I thought, and was interested enough in me that they look forward to me sharing my thoughts with them. I guess it boils down to loneliness, and this blog is my imaginary friend. Upon more reflection, I may have created this blog because it filled a need I thought others would have helped with. The blog’s name came about because when I opened up and shared with a person or two, interest in what I had to say was a little more than nothing. And thus the tagline that’s been with the blog from the start, “Because this is all I have to offer…………a whole bag of nothing.” I remember asking these people if they had ever read my blog, and they said no, which hurt my feelings because it felt like what I had to say was of no value to these particular people I sought value from. I finally asked that they keep up with it, and they did, but begrudgingly. At least I know what I now want from someone who values me.
  • Ohio congressional candidate accidentally concedes race hours before the polls closed
    • The campaign for Derek Myers, a MAGA-loving House candidate in Ohio, accidentally issued a concession statement four hours before polls closed in the state on Tuesday. “Tonight did not go as we had hoped, but as we know, this race is decided in the primary,” the email read. “I want to give my congratulations to the Congressman-elect. I’m looking forward to uniting behind him and working with him to get President Trump re-elected to the White House and evicting Joe Biden.” The statement was also accompanied by a pre-recorded concession speech in which Myers declares, “As I’ve told everyone on the campaign trail, ‘I’m in my 30s and if I don’t win this race, that’s OK—because I’ve got 30 or 50 more years left.’” The Myers campaign retracted the premature announcement about 10 minutes later, subject line: “DISREGARD CONCESSION EMAIL.” In a followup state
  • This is one of the major reasons why I left the Baptist, Bible, and other Evangelical churches. A few times, it cut like a knife. This one time I was visiting a very close friend and his wife at the parsonage they lived in. My friend mentioned something about my left-leaning politics and his wife gave me this confused look and said, “I didn’t think you could be a Christian and be a Democrat?” I gave her my usual response when things like this happen: a half-smile, head nod, and a silent prayer that the subject of conversation will change quickly.
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