Indy Lessons: Top 5 Things I Learned at the Final Four

April 8, 2010

5.  Lucas Oil Stadium is fantastic. When I think of football stadiums, the Metrodome in Minneapolis and the Georgia Dome in Atlanta come to mind – large, rounded structures capped with white, puffy domes.  Lucas Oil Stadium could not be more different.  The outside of the stadium looks more like a large shipping warehouse than a football stadium.  Inside, the concourses are wide enough for a sold-out crowd to find food and purchase souvenirs without creating a traffic jam.  Vikings fans: this is the kind of stadium you should lobby for in Minneapolis.

4.  When a championship is on the line, all bets are off. Friends become enemies; students boasting perfect GPAs cover themselves in paint; CEOs yell themselves hoarse.  I even had a close friend drive from New York to Indianapolis – that’s 14 hours – just to see the championship.  For Monday’s game, I found myself seated in front of a group of people all bearing name tags with company logos.  “Great,” I thought.  “Guess I’ll be the only person cheering in this area.”  I could not have been more wrong.  From the opening tip to the final buzzer, that corporate group screamed for every loose ball, clapped wildly for every Butler rebound and jumped to their feet after every made Butler basket.  Everyone had a reason for transforming from a normal, functioning member of society into a crazed college basketball fan, and it was exciting to watch the changes take place.

3.  As a society, we love our underdogs – and the media know it. Everywhere I turned in Indianapolis, I found sportswriters and reporters comparing the Duke-Butler national title game to the classic “David vs. Goliath” matchup.  The media spun the matchup in a way that had people coming out in droves to support Butler, and there was nowhere that this was more apparent than in Lucas Oil Stadium for the national title game, where a sizeable majority of the 70,000 fans at the game sported Butler gear.  According to the Houston Chronicle, 48.1 million people watched the game (the most since 1997), most cheering their hearts out for this tournament’s Cinderella.

2.  Loyalty really does pay off in the end. The day after Selection Sunday, I wrote on this very blog that I would be taking Duke all the way in my office bracket because eventually, my refusal to imagine Duke losing in the tournament would pay off.  Well, this year, it finally did.  And as a result, I am about to become the proud owner of what I can only imagine to be the best set of prizes in office bracket history.  For a complete rundown of the prizes, check out our Facebook video here.

1.  The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is perfect. Consider this my official plea to the NCAA: please, please, please do not expand the field of 65 to 96.  Don’t fix something that isn’t broken.  This year’s NCAA tournament gave us buzzer beaters, near misses, unlikely heroes, overtime and plenty of upsets.  Why mess with something that is already perfect?