MIAMI — There is a bracket where even Gator haters not only can pick Florida, but probably will.
Florida Evans, that is.
Yes, the mom from “Good Times” is in the running for a title right now.
You think brackets are just for basketball and that they only get filled out at this time of year, in the days leading up to the start of the NCAA Tournament? If so, think again. Of course, the NCAAs and the billions of dollars spent in bracket pools move the needle more than anything else. But these days, there are brackets for just about everything — best presidents, best movies, best Aerosmith songs , and so much more.
“Brackets, they’re just inherently fun,” said Joe Micik, who owns a site called Bracketyard.com . “It’s enjoyable to do them because there are just so many variables to take into account. Once you do them, it’s fun to follow along, compare how you did with your friends, your family, your co-workers. When it comes to March Madness, I feel like doing your bracket is just part of the cultural experience of America.”
Micik’s site has brackets with topics ranging from RuPaul to Hell’s Kitchen to Mystery Science Theater 3000. And that’s just a tiny percentage of what’s out there to choose from.
There’s a “Hottest Kennedys” bracket, where John F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy Jr. may actually meet in the Elite Eight. There’s a “Teen Movies” bracket — and whoever put it together should be embarrassed that “Varsity Blues” was a 16 seed. There’s a best candy bracket, where candy corn probably gave peanut M&Ms a serious run in a potential 12-5 upset.
Entertainment Weekly put together a “Best Actress” bracket earlier this year that was absolutely diabolical in some of its first-round matchups: Meryl Streep vs. Sally Field, Joan Crawford vs. Bette Davis, Helen Mirren vs. Charlize Theron — and that was just to get into the Round of 32. (Vivien Leigh wound up winning for her work in “Gone With The Wind.”)
Brackets — whether about sports or pop culture or anything else — are so mainstream now, you could even say filling them out has been a governmental edict.
“Finish your bracket,” then-President Barack Obama reminded his Twitter followers in 2013, just before the start of the NCAAs.
Major League Baseball had 100,000 fans filling out brackets for last year’s Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities in Miami. There’s brackets for favorite restaurants. Best sitcom. Worst sitcom. Best media member. Worst media member.
You get the idea.
“People really like taking sides,” said Mike Roe, a digital journalist at KPCC radio in Southern California — which has done some extremely popular bracket contests. “People like finding something they can get behind, something they identify with. I’m not a sports guy. I did this because I’m fascinated by brackets. I think brackets are sort of where our love of teams and being part of something really come together with the sort of geeky side of our brains.”
The bracket can also be seen as an antidote for this age of oversaturation and political tumult. Matchups neatly aligned in a grid that flows effortlessly toward a victor is inherently satisfying.
For three years, Roe was involved in brackets to pick the best shows on public radio. In his private life, he’s a big pro wrestling fans — and has found various brackets from that world as well.
“It’s totally staged,” Roe said. “But people still love the idea.”
With that, we go back to Florida. And the other Florida.
If you’re filling out an NCAA Tournament bracket this year — including the game where No. 6 Florida will play No. 11 St. Bonaventure — they’re almost all due before first-round games start at noon Eastern time on Thursday.
You get a couple more days after that to pick Florida Evans.
Not only is the character the namesake for one of the brackets in the 64-show field picked for the “Greatest Black TV Show” bracket, but “Good Times” is a No. 1 seed along with “The Cosby Show,” ”The Jeffersons” and “In Living Color.” (Potential upset: No. 11 seed “Being Mary Jane” over No. 6 “Diff’rent Strokes,” because we wouldn’t pick against Dwyane Wade during the 2003 NCAAs and we wouldn’t pick against his wife Gabrielle Union in this one.)
“My stance is this,” Micik said. “You can put just about anything in a bracket.”
Pick your bracket at https://collegebasketball.ap.org/