Traveling to NCAA tournament games can be a real party for students. No, not for the basketball players: they spend their days in press conferences and practice, and their nights resting up for the next game. But that's not the case for the non-athletes who are along for the ride.
Class is in session at my university this week, but I won't be there. I'll be a part of March Madness, but I'm not a basketball player. I'm a member of my school's band, which makes me a member of the "spirit squad"—the peppy umbrella term that also encompasses our school's cheerleaders and mascot. As such, I am taking an all-expenses-paid trip courtesy of the NCAA. Chartered planes, hotels, and per diem are all provided by an organization founded "as a way to protect student-athletes," even though, during March Madness, we aren't much of either.
We don't sit in a Holiday Inn doing homework until game day. We're on vacation. We stay in resorts; we get sunset views; we share our hotels with famous actors and musicians; we stay in places that give out free wine without carding us. Spirit squads for higher-seeded teams receive relatively luxurious accommodations in prime, downtown locations. Those for lower-seeded teams sometimes wind up in the boonies near the airport. My school has never been a heavy favorite, but my hotels have been unbelievable. I can only dream of what Gonzaga's hotel will look like this year.
It's a racket—the little one that blooms within the big one. No one's an amateur during March Madness.
Read about one student's experiences traveling to NCAA tournament games. When his/her school is not in the Big Dance, there's a possibility the band will be hired for another school that needs one. Link -via Digg