It’s March; bracket season. Stupid bracket-format tournament challenges represent one of the surest signs of a blog’s editorial desperation. Some things just don’t need to be seeded, then pitted against one another. Kittens, for example.
But bracket tournaments are irresistible to lazy writers and editors. Like me. Here’s why: Properly done, brackets provide fodder for not just one, but several columns: Initial seedings! First round results! Second round results! Final matchups! Postmortems! You get the idea; the bracket-tournament format is a gift that keeps on giving to bloggers. Plus, brackets combine two activities that Americans seem to really, really like: ranking things, and elimination tournaments. (As to the latter, see my continued affection for the admittedly horrible Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, Bloodsport.) So even if a bracket challenge is incredibly stupid, people will still read it, if only to comment on how stupid it is.
This siren song has seduced several relatively good blogs (ohai, Vulture) into printing dopey bracket-tournament challenges for things like movies, sitcoms, presidents, and law professors. Since I, and this blog, do not claim to have any standards at all, I thought I would jump onto the bandwagon and offer up a couple of the dumbest bracket matchups I could think of. Let the debates begin!
First, how about this bracket challenge that pits law school courses against one another:
Hmm. I may have seeded Remedies and Securities Regulation too generously. And for those of you who teach International Law or Comparative Law and think I’ve seeded these courses too harshly, well, it’s time to get a grip on reality.
It was a tough call as to whether Torts or Con Law should grab the last Number #1 seed. I went with Con Law to dispel any allegations of a pro-Torts bias. And, yes, I did accidentally seed Property twice, which I suspect tends not to occur in real tournaments. If this error bothers you, calm down, have a drink, and just tell yourself that one of the Property entries has just been declared academically ineligible or something.
If this bracket has any worthwhile qualities at all, it’s that it made me think about what the law-school curriculum equivalent of the Berlin-Kay hierarchy / ordering of words for colors would look like. (I.e., “If a law school has seven courses, these courses will include A, B, C, D, and E, and two among F, G, and H. If a law school has eight courses, these courses will include. . . .”). But that’s a topic for another day.
A bracket for law courses not your thing? How about this bracket challenge, involving law blogs:
Wow, the tournament organizers, whoever they may be, sure set up a fascinating first-round match-up between Concurring Opinions and PrawfsBlawg. I wonder how the participants will know who is on whose team. And I don’t know about you, but I am personally very excited about the possible second-round contest between Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports and the Inside the Law School Scam blog. And just to anticipate a question some of you might ask, no, Althouse is not invited to this tournament. This is a bracket for law blogs, not for law professors who blog. There is a difference.
The Law Blog bracket tournament strikes me as ridiculous, of course, but I can’t get over the nagging suspicion that someone else already has put together a similar set of matchups. (Looking in your general direction, Above the Law.) Anyway, have at it. Contrary to the basic premise of this exercise, I promise there will be no follow-up posts. But remember, cash gambling remains illegal in most states.