Garner: Opinion

Column: Brackets, brackets everywhere

Johnny Whitfield, columnist The Eastern Wake News and The Clayton News Star.
Johnny Whitfield, columnist The Eastern Wake News and The Clayton News Star.

If you’re born and bred in North Carolina, it’s a little difficult not to get excited when the calendar turns to March. That means the ACC tournament and the NCAA basketball tournament are just around the corner.

Brackets have gotten tremendously popular in recent years. Office pools pop up and even some disinterested viewers tune into the games to see if they guessed right. The bracket, however, can be used for more than just basketball tournaments. We’ve seen them used by our sister publication, The News & Observer, to pick the state’s best athletes and the best TV shows. Other brackets have seen popular muscal acts pitted against each other.

Now local governments are getting on the act. The League of Municipalities – something like a trade organization for the state’s towns and cities – has created an interesting bracket of its own. The League wants voters to select their favorite town or city from across the state. Just like in the NCAA tournament, the winners on the first round bracket advance to the second round until there’s a champion crowned.

Zebulon is among those currently battling it out for a spot in the second round. As of our deadline, Zebulon was trailing the Pender County town of Wallace, 412 to 208, with one day of voting still left.

The League’s little tournament includes a nice mix of small towns and big cities. Theoretically, the large cities ought to be able to win handily since there are a lot more people in those places to vote for them. But at last check, Durham, the biggest city in the competition, had secured just four votes, while the Mecklenburg County suburb of Mooresville had nearly 900 votes.

Government folks, unfairly or not, have developed a reputation as very by-the-book and very rigid. But this is a fun little exercise and even the stodgiest government worker can get into a friendly rivalry.

With folks around these parts still struggling to get through yet another round of wintry weather and school closures, we need to have a little fun.

We’re not sure why this is the case, but it seems like people, transitory as our society has become, still have a remarkable sense of loyalty to their community. That makes the contest fun. It’s impossible to know who will ultimately win.

But it sure is a lot of fun to let your hair down and show your civic pride.

Your newspaper wants to get into the act a little bit too. Throughout the contest, as long as our town is in the contest, we’ll keep letting people know when to vote and we’ll keep you up with the most up-to-date voting results.

The contest is a great way to have fun with people in this basketball-crazed region as they try to keep an eye on another intriguing tournament.

We’ll see, over the next few weeks, just how much much civic pride residents really have. So buckle up and enjoy the ride.

Find a good way to vote as often as you’re allowed. There’s nothing in it for the towns that are participating except for braging rights. For the rest of us, though, it’s a precusor to NCAA basketball. Either way, it’s fun.