America 101: #117 March Madness

by awindram

What is it?

Sufferers of the March Madness syndrome.

March Madness is a social phenomenon that occurs primarily throughout the continental US during the NCAA basketball tournament. It involves groups of people who normally show little interest in sports developing an intense, all-consuming attachment to college basketball for three weeks.

Annually affecting thousands of people, March Madness is not a one-off event, there are documented cases of it occurring each year since the syndrome was first recorded in 1939.

March Madness is understood as a mass psychogenic illness in which the rapid spread of the syndrome’s signs and symptoms originates from a nervous system disturbance involving the afflicted developing a sudden interest in brackets, decorating their office cubicles in their college colors, and feelings of intense anxiety while watching a sports team they haven’t given a shit about during the regular season.

In 1988, Professor M.G. Boyle of Berkeley recorded an extreme version of March Madness in Durham, North Carolina centered around a mysterious figure known only to researchers as K. Boyle’s study showed that in this case the mass hysteria – under the prompting of the enigmatic K. – developed into a fully developed mass psychotic breakdown lasting far longer than the normal three-week period of March Madness and involving the entire undergraduate intake at Duke University. Those afflicted temporarily lived in a tent city, covered their bodies in blue and white paint, pronounced their loyalty to K. and repeatedly made a fucking annoying hand gesture they called “the hex” against the opponents of the Duke basketball team. Boyle termed those suffering from this condition as having the “Cameron Crazies“. Dr I. Weinman of Harvard has argued against Boyle’s hypothesis of mass psychotic breakdown, instead Weinman posited that the Cameron Crazies and the near reverence granted to K. showed all the hallmarks of mass hysteria within a cult structure.

Can anything be done about it?

There is no known cure for March Madness, although for the most part symptoms will subside by the first week of April.