If James Naismith were alive today, he would be grilling
and cursing his brackets, just like the rest of us.
Alleged History of the
In the beginning, there were only two players: Wayne
Simmons and Derek Simmons. Each picked an NCAA Tournament bracket, and Wayne
picked better. For his victory, Wayne earned the right to name the contest.
He chose "Kick Derek's Butt in the NCAA Tournament Pool." As the sole
vanquished player, Derek was obligated to write a letter of concession to
In the second year, Derek recruited additional players
hoping either to win or to persuade a different winner to change the name.
Derek was unsuccessful on both counts. The end result was simply more
players--spread across three states--kicking Derek's butt in the NCAA
Tournament Pool and ratifying the name. The only change was that Derek had
company in writing letters of concession to the victor.
In the third year, Derek gave up on winning fair and
square. He attempted to change the name of the contest by executive fiat. He
chose "The NCAA Tournament Smackdown." He was roundly ignored by his
competitors, who continued both to crush Derek in the brackets and to retain
the former name. Derek wrote the third in his series of concession letters,
but some critics charged that it did not appear to be "fully sincere."
For the fourth year, Derek unleashed an advertising
blitz to promote the name change. Despite full-page advertisements in Sports
Illustrated and USA Today--as well as market saturation in prime time
throughout February sweeps--players resisted in any name change. Derek's
concession letter was widely derided as redundant. Critics wondered
aloud if there was a mathematical limit to the number of ways one could
In the fifth year of the contest, Derek was distracted
by the impending birth of his son. Control of the contest was ceded to his
brother, Rand, who reportedly adopted the Smackdown name change out of pity.
"The kid is already saddled with Derek as a father," Rand explained to
observers. "There's no need to leave the name dwelling on his dad's epic
loserdom." Alas, the name change was not enough to lift Derek to victory.
His concession letter was brief, heartfelt, and poignant. Certain loser
groupies still consider it suitable for framing.
In the sixth year of the contest, Derek's competitors
decided to lower the bar for him. Derek finished fifth of 10 competitors,
and commentators established the "Derekdoza line." Those above him were
worthy; those behind were relegated to the minor leagues. Derek had clawed
his way to nearly respectable mediocrity. Nevertheless, his concession
letter did not bespeak satisfaction with his lot.
In 2004, Derek experienced noticeable slippage. After finishing 12th out of
13 competitors--with only deputy assistant undersecretary to the Oregon
Attorney General Paul Smith behind him--Derek's concession letter was ... to
be charitable, pathetic. In addition to lacking in inspiration, critics
pointed to two typographical errors and a dangling participle. Smackdown
controller Rand Simmons considered renaming the contest, but decided not to
in a fit of apathy. 2004 Recap
The 2005 Smackdown saw improvement in the Derekdoza line, likely due to
reinforcements. Derek finished 8th of 14 competitors after a second son
joined the family mid-Smackdown. Unfortunately, his concession letter (as
dictated and transcribed) was among history's worst. Full text: "Good work,
Wayne. Whose diaper is that I smell?" Privately, Smackdown organizers
commented that perhaps it was Derek's performance providing the aroma.
The ninth annual Smack Derek's Butt
Contest--or something to that effect--saw continued marginal decline in the
Derekdoza line, when he finished 6th out of 15 competitors. More chilling
was the fact that the three finishers immediately ahead of Derek tied
for third. If a tie is like kissing your sister, well, that sounds like one
sick menage a trois. Even Derek, who lacks the social graces of a
ship rat, did not touch the subject in his concession letter.
In 2007, history began to repeat
itself. Wayne Simmons, winner of the first and eighth Smackdowns, captured a
third crown. Derek attempted, during the first round, to sacrifice a small
animal to the basketball gods, but was shouted down by his mortified young
sons. The gods punished Derek with a river of red on his brackets, and he
finished 13th of 14. "I have embarrassed myself and my family," Derek wrote
in concession. "I shall not have dessert again until I win this contest." 2007
In 2008, history actually began to
stutter. Scott McLoughlin won his third Smackdown. In a possibly
related development, Derek gained something like 25 pounds. In his
concession letter, Derek claimed that his metabolism had "slowed to near
stoppage, making accurate picks nearly impossible." Derek's credibility was
strained by chocolate stains on the letter, and he finished squarely in the
middle of the 15-person field. 2008
the world very nearly ended. Entire nations were caught in an economic
morass, the Afghanistan war went sour, and Iran threatened to plunge the
Middle East and beyond into nuclear war. But before most of that happened,
there was a harbinger: One of Derek's siblings won the Smackdown, and--we
hope you are sitting down for this--Derek finished second. "I am not
completely surprised that Kate won," three-time champion Scott McLoughlin
said in his concession letter, "but I WAS surprised that hell did not freeze
over at the same time." 2009 Recap
Like a coin flipping head over tail before ... landing on an edge, Derek
followed up his second-place finish by finishing smack in the middle of the
21-person 2010 field. Champion Tifani 'Kryzyzewski' Jefferis, interviewed
while meditating in a Mississippi meadow, was the picture of equanimity.
"For every yin, there is a yang," she explained, "and for every sweet
victory by a valiant competitor, there is an equal and opposite Derek."
Derek's concession letter was in the form of crossword puzzle clues in
which none of the answers were suitable for republication on a family
website. 2010 Recap
The 2011 contest achieved existential perfection: Derek finished last.
Twentieth out of 20. The true caboose.
Participants celebrated far into the night. "You have to admire his
tenacity," champion Aron 'Calls 'Em Like She Sees 'Em' Rider conceded,
"because there really is very little else about him to admire." In homage to
Erin's professional career as a musician--and in a clear example of grade
inflation--Derek's concession letter was written entirely in the key of
D-minus. 2011 Recap