ESPN's Top 10 Buzzer Beating Shots in NCAA  tournament history.

The Exciting and Dramatic

The video on the left encapsulates the reasons why ritual, sport, and play are present in bracketology. Moments such as these draw viewers into watching the tournament. The tournament offers observers a chance to see victory and defeat in the most dramatic fashion. In order to partake in the excitement that the tournament offers, people turn to bracketology, which has ritual, sport, and play qualities.

The rituals of bracketology become "stylized patterns" that people use to fill out their brackets. These rituals become personalized after they are honed over time. As noted in the Rituals of Bracketology page, Amanda Bremer's methods have changed from one season to another, refining her stylized patterns into a set of rituals. Like Bremer, people create their own rituals after gaining experience from each tournament. However, these personal rituals often can be ascribed to a particular archetype, seen in the videos on the Archetypes page. These archetypes encompass a broad set of rituals that are commonly used in bracketology. Thus, bracketology facilitates both personal and communal rituals. The former makes an individual's bracket his or her own, while the latter unites everyone. This dynamic of personal and communal rituals helps to generate interest in the tournament. Each participant of bracketology believes his or her rituals to be the best stylized pattern of predicting the outcome of the tournament. These personal rituals connect the observer with the events of the tournament, idea that the better rituals will result in the predictions will come to fruition. Communal rituals come into play when people compare brackets. Trends in bracketology result when people use communal rituals when filling out their bracket. Unexpected results in the tournament can lead to questioning of these stylized patterns.

Susan Birrell writes, "the encompassing power of sport joins together the individual and the community for the mutual benefit of both" (Birrell 355). This element of sport is present in bracketology. As described above, personal and communal rituals distinguish bracketology as both a personal as well as communal phenomenon. The communal experience of bracketology is a collection of individual experiences. Thus, bracketology unities people through a common event, the tournament. Indeed, the internet has revolutionized how people can connect to each other through bracket pools. Gone are the days of individual office pools, they have been replaced with massive online bracket pools. The ESPN Bracket Challenge featured 4.2 million brackets, a true testament to bracketology's ability to connect individuals with each other. The individual and the community interact in a synergistic manner to create a mutual benefit for both. An bracket without a pool has less meaning than one because it cannot be compared to others. In addition, a bracket pool depends on the individual brackets of which it is comprised. In this way, bracketology exemplifies the encompassing power of sport by connect an individual to a larger community.
Johan Huizinga

In Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga describes play as, "a free activity standing quite consciously outside 'ordinary' life as being 'not serious,' but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly" (Huizinga 13). Individuals experience bracketology as a separation from their ordinary lives as exemplified by Barack-etology. President Obama appears outside of his ordinary state of being as a politician. Instead, he seems to experiment with his position as a powerful world leader by playing the role as an average sports fan. In this way, bracketology allows the observer to test the limits of ordinary being. Marginal play addresses the "absorbing the player intensely and utterly"  aspects of play. Empathetic engagement is the component of marginal play that encapsulates the emotional involvement the viewer experiences while watching a game. The boundaries between ordinary life and the playing field become blurred as "the fan becomes the fanatic," according to Joe Lunardi.