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March Madness, Solnit was right.

April 7, 2011

The month of March in NCAA basketball brings about glory, madness, upsets, and for some disaster. Joe Posnanki’s article in Sports Illustrated talks about the unpredictability of the NCAA tournament compared to NBA playoffs. He goes on to describe how playing one game eliminations give teams hope and a level playing field. Posnanki depicts the teams in the final game as having survived a month of hell (Posnanki, 2011). Through this hell, the wining teams found unity. They found that the five players on the floor have to work together to achieve a victory. This year the University of Connecticut was an unexpected champion that when faced with the choice of going home, said no. Uconn had a subpar year that was unpredictable, but when it mattered they made it count. The Uconn Huskies won five games in five days to win the Big East tournament. This tournament was the last thing before the NCAA march madness tournament, and was just the spark the team needed.

Disaster, as seen in the college basketball world, is an upset for a highly seeded NCAA basketball team. Kansas was 32-2 during the 2011 season and won its 7th straight Big 12 championship. However, maybe all of this winning went to their heads. In a time of disaster, being down to VCU, they lost their composure. The did not find unity at a time it was needed. When it came to swimming or sinking, they sank. Kansas, a number 1 seed, lost in the elite 8 to VCU who was a lowly 11th seed. You may wonder how this happened? VCU saw that with each game they played that had the chance to create chiaos and disaster.

Unlike in Solnit’s observation that people bond together in times of disaster, Kansas chose to collapse. The key to winning in the face of a disaster is survival, and they were not playing to their potential. Rebecca Solnit would say that Kansas should have listened to her when VCU took control of that game, and a change should have been made.  A team that would coincide with Solnit’s views would be Uconn. Uconn displayed a strong sense of fellowship in the tournament, because they were a doubted underdog. When faced with the disaster of ending the season, they chose to keep playing. By going on a winning streak to finish out the season, the team bonded and found their groove. Together, the Uconn Huskies and their coach were ready to face any challenge, or team. To me it seems that Solnit observations are very accurate, because the Uconn huskies are the 2011 NCAA national champions.


Posnanski, J., “The Madness of March,” (April 3rd, 2011)., R., “ The Uses of Disaster,” handout made available to the students of POLSCI 101.

Solnit, R., “ The Uses of Disaster,” handout made available to the students of POLSCI101.

  1. Pierre Gerondeau permalink
    April 7, 2011 9:13 PM

    This was a really interesting post, and it is always great to see political theory in the athletic realm. I agree with your point that disaster is an important component of March Madness basketball, and the ways that teams respond to disaster and adversity affect how they finish the championship season. It was really interesting to look at Kansas, who was a favorite to win the whole tournament, but instead was upset by a much lower seeded VCU team. Like you said, the winning might have went to Kansas’ heads. Upsets always spell disaster for brackets, and it was interesting to think about how VCU tried to “create chaos and disaster.” On the other hand, UConn was not predicted to do as well, especially after a bad season last year, but instead of playing like everybody thought they would, they played great team basketball and were able to win. I also think you can look at disaster in another way in terms of VCU. VCU plays in a smaller, less-prominent conference than any of the teams that they upset during the tournament. During their regular season they lost to Georgia State, who was 12-19 for the season in a much lower conference. Also, Butler, the team that lost the national championship game, lost to Youngstown State, who was 9-21 during the season. Both VCU and Butler banded together after these bad losses and had some of the best seasons in school history.

  2. bwand permalink
    April 8, 2011 2:36 PM

    I agree with Pierre that March Madness represents Solnit’s view but in a different way. I think VCU and Butler came together to put on such strong performances because they were struggling so much towards the end of the regular season. Their ability to unite after a potentially disastrous season was much more representative of Solnit than Kansas’ inability to do so. Kansas was such a big favorite to win the game against VCU, and even the whole tournament, that they never really faced the disaster situation to get them the motivation and team unity that UConn and the others had. They were down against VCU, but I don’t think that’s the same disaster situation that VCU and Butler faced as they had to pull it all together down the stretch just to make the tournament. Great post, and I agree that Solnit’s views do apply to March Madness and the disaster that ensues.

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