Sure they will tell you that the NCAA tournament is about basketball, but it's not really. It's all about the office pool.
It's not high stakes. I don't think the pool in my office is even enough to buy a good steak dinner at the Old West Steak House. Yet a good percentage of the folks who work at the Pilot & Today forked over a few bucks to see if they could pick the winners in this year's NCAA Tournament.
Every couple of years I will even donate the key word being donate my $5 in an attempt to outguess the experts.
If I've learned anything in the past few days it is that I'm not alone in my quest.
March Madness is as much about gambling as it is about college basketball.
Over the years I've met some folks who would never dream of laying $5 on a blackjack table in Las Vegas, who end up drooling when given the chance to get into an office pool.
For the diehard basketball enthusiast who still thinks the purpose of the NCAA Tournament is about crowning a national champion well, I hope you are right.
But for millions of others, the tournament is about getting into pools and trying to predict the future of college's top teams. In any given office you will find folks filling out brackets who haven't watched a college basketball game all season.
If you happen to be one of these folks who could care less about college hoops, but want to get into a pool, don't worry. There is still hope.
If you don't believe me just pick up a copy of Sports Illustrated this week and the experts will fill in the blanks for you.
They boldly tell you their picks to win on Page 49 under a headline that reads "Everybody into the Pool." Tell me again what the purpose of this tournament is?
Unfortunately, the experts at SI picked Marquette, Pepperdine, Gonzaga and Hawaii to advance out of the first round.
They did a little bit better than I did, but after a quick glance, I don't think they will be collecting the money in my office unless they make a huge comeback in the final rounds.
But just so you don't think that I feel like college basketball was created just to fill a nation's obsession with gambling.
I really do think the primary purpose of the NCAA Tournament is basketball and crowning a national champion. It's far better than the system we have of picking a national football champion and it's great that every office in the country can take such a deep interest in the sport.
Chances are that I would watch the Final Four even if I weren't in an office pool.
I discovered college basketball was fun to watch and exciting to follow back in the early '90s when the Final Four came to Denver.
I was in college then, standing courtside with some of the best shooters in the country. No doubt I was too young, and dumb, to grasp the true meaning of what was going on. There I stood with my 35-mm camera and 80-200 zoom lens around my neck as guys from the top publications in the country fired roll after roll of film. They had long lenses and lots of cameras around their necks, yet I never really felt like I was out of place. It was some of the best basketball and some of the greatest photos I have ever taken in my life and maybe because the UNLV cheerleaders were just a few feet away it inspired me to become a better photographer.
Just because the format of this event is conducive to gambling doesn't mean that this is what the NCAA Tournament is all about.
But the office pool is a great way to get a lot of people interested in what's happening on the court for the low, low price of just $5.