You see evidences of March Madness every where you look. There are commercials, brackets to be filled out, social media posts bragging about their teams and tweets galore as the NCAA tournament is underway.
Personally, March is my favorite time of year in the sporting world. I love March Madness! I can totally handle a two hour basketball game. It’s the four hour football games that give me a hard time.
Excitement of March Madness
There is nothing more thrilling when it comes to sports viewing than filling out a bracket with your anticipated champion at the top and making all of the stars align so that they destroy all of their opponents. You’ve anticipated their success and revved up for the coming games.
If this has all been lost on you, I am addressing this post to you. Some spouses, male and female, just aren’t that into sports. And maybe the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament just isn’t their thing. That is all fine. Not everyone has to get it. But, you should understand a couple of points if you wish to be supportive to your other half who is.
Coming to an Understanding
At first, I didn’t get it. We didn’t watch a lot of sports growing up and so prior to my marriage, I had NEVER filled out a bracket. That’s right. I was a bracket virgin. March Madness meant nothing to me. Well, it meant that summer was around the corner.
When I saw the mania that filled my husband’s soul come March time, I started going along for the ride. In our third year of marriage, I finally filled one out. Guess how exhilarating it was when my team one! AMAZING! Yep, for anyone doing the math, 2015 the Blue Devils destroyed all in their path. How fortunate that at the time, Austin was A STUDENT AT DUKE! Could there be a more all-encompassing way to get introduced to the NCAA tournament? I don’t think so.
The next year, we were not so fortunate. And this year… I’m sure you might have some idea of the devastation we might feel right now. But only if you get it. If you don’t, here are some tips.
1. Never Make a Joke the Night of their Despair.
You might think it is fun to kick the horse while it’s down. But, let me try and provide you with an accurate analogy:
It’s like something has died. And you may think, it can’t possibly be that bad. The team will be back next year. They’ll play again and one day they may win. Don’t make this mistake. IT IS THAT BAD. The team will never be the same. Do you think Jayson Tatum is going to stick around for the next March Madness? No. He will be off to the NBA draft. Is Amile Jefferson going to be back? No. He’s a senior. Will you ever get the story of them working through the hardships of injuries, suspensions and character building experiences to finally come together as a team just in time for the tournament? No! Next year it will be a different team. A whole different story.
2. Maybe don’t say, “There’s always next year.”
As mentioned before, there may be a next year. But the team won’t be the same. And on that note, what if there’s NOT a next year? Are you 100% certain the world is not going to end this year? Don’t give your spouse false hope. Time for another example:
Say you are really into Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You love the show and then all of a sudden, the bomb. They’re not making another one after season 7?! And then your well-intentioned friend says, “well, you can watch Angel.”
ANGEL?! That’s not the same. Not even close.
Your spouse wanted THIS team to win THIS year. And next year, they will want THAT team to win THAT year. You can’t compare apples to oranges. Everyone knows that Buffy was better than Angel. Who knows if next year will be better or worse? Live in the now for your spouse.
3. Maybe don’t say, “They had a good season.” or “It’s Okay.” or “At least they made it this far.”
Again, as well-intentioned as this is, it doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is, them having a good season doesn’t matter. As my husband says, “There is only one happy team at the end of the season.”
And with, “It’s okay”, it’s NOT okay. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this list about how to tiptoe around your broken spouse.
And for the last one, making it far is not the same as winning. Do you think you would be okay with Harry Potter dying and the Dark Lord still reigns in the land? What if your spouse leaned over to you and said, “Well, at least he made it this far.”? Did that help?
4. Learn How Your Spouse Grieves
As I mentioned before, pretend as if they have experienced a great loss. If they need to vent and talk through it, just listen.
My husband just needs to be left alone. He wants time to get over it all on his own.
I need a hug. If you are reading this and you are suffering, it is important to let your spouse know how they can help. Communication is key.
5. Don’t Cheer for their Opponent
Now, there is a caveat to this and I will get to it in a second. If you do not care who wins, cheer for your spouse’s team. Support them and want what they want. This will help them feel like you care about what they care about, even if you don’t get it. You care about them, therefore, you care about their team.
If you DO happen to GENUINELY want the other team to win during March Madness (not out of spite or jest), it is appropriate to want your team to win. However, both spouses need to come to an agreement about how to interact when the game is on. Maybe you need to watch it in silence. Or maybe in another room.
Perhaps cheering is fine, but arguing with the ref and knocking your spouse’s team is not. Again, communication is key. This can be a very delicate situation so it should be handled with care.
6. Maybe don’t say. “It’s just a game.”
You may want to say this with every fiber of your being. DO NOT SAY THIS. “It’s just a game” invalidates their passion for the game. By saying this, you are essentially telling them, you’re stupid for getting so invested in a trivial thing like basketball.
It is not just a game to them. It’s months of watching their team succeed and fail and hoping that they are going to do something great at the end of it all. This is a story of epic proportions. Even if their team is frequently a winner, no one knows how that team has struggled as much as your spouse does. They have been with them through their failures and they want to see them overcome. A tournament is about the hope of overcoming. They feel a part of the team, and the team feels a part of them.
7. Have Love
If your spouse is one of those special people who really gets invested in the game, let them get invested. It’s who they are. The game is how they relate to the world. Let them experience victories and failures through another team and allow them the transcendent experience of a sweet victory at the end of a hard fought battle.
And when it doesn’t turn out, recognize that it is like Frodo dying before dropping the ring in the fiery pits of Mordor. It’s like that horrible moment in chick flicks when it seems like they are never going to get back together and then they DON’T. Watching their team lose is like staying up all night to see the sunrise and then it never comes.
Your spouse needs your love, especially during March Madness. Though it may seem trivial to you, try to see it from your spouse’s point of view.
All Sporting Events
I hope this helps for the rest of March Madness and also for all sporting events in the future. Now you have a guide to helping your spouse cope with loss during sporting events and hopefully, you will not have to. Hopefully your experience will be like my first and you will get to embrace your spouse as they jump up and down for the buzzer beater that wins the game.
If you don’t get basketball at all but want to get in on some March Madness fun, check out this girl’s fun blog.
Leave any other ideas for how to help your spouse in the comments below!