What I learned when the CBS Sports site crashed and crushed my dreams of NCAA bracket glory

What I learned when the CBS Sports site crashed and crushed my dreams of NCAA bracket glory
This is what my ChicagoNow bracket looks like: empty.

I really love the NCAA Mens' Basketball Tournament. March Madness is a big deal in my world, as is filling out brackets. For the first time in five years, though, I won't have a bracket in the ChicagoNow Pool* because the CBS Sports site crashed this morning two hours before the tournament started.

I hopped online with well more than an hour before tip off left, thinking that I had plenty of time to submit my picks.

I was wrong.

The more "internal server errors" I got, the frustrated I got. The site was down and didn't come back online before tip off of the first game.  In the end, my heart sank at 11:15 as my beloved Fighting Irish tipped off and I realized that my bracket was not going to be submitted.

I'm definitely disappointed as well as a little angry with CBS Sports. It's not like they didn't know this would be a popular time to use their site, the one they've advertised heavily. But, after a half an hour of sadness, I've reached acceptance and realized that there's a lot I can learn from the experience (and about my teen).

Procrastination never pays.

While this may not be true every single time, it's safe to say that waiting until the last minute is never a good idea. I knew this.

I usually don't procrastinate, and now I remember why. At least this will be a good example for my teen of how putting things off can lead to disappointment and can mean being left out. And being left out never feels good, even if it is your own fault.

Listen to other people.

CBS Sports had been sending me emails for days suggesting I complete my bracket. My ChicagoNow community manager advised bloggers to "get it in soon" in an email yesterday. My husband reminded me several times.

Did I follow their wise suggestions?

Of course not!

Now I'm sorry I did not.

This may be a good reminder for me when I wonder why my teen doesn't always follow my sage advice, or maybe she'll learn from my mistake and start following every suggestion I make. (A mom can dream, right?)

If you're going to prepare, don't leave loose ends.

I prepare for March Madness. Seriously. The selection show was on Sunday, and on Monday morning I was on a local television show talking about fun ways to pick your teams and making my picks. I filled out a paper bracket to do for fun with my family (again, no gambling) on Tuesday.

What's the one think I didn't do? Fill out my bracket online. I did all the other stuff. This one last item could wait. No biggie.

But it didn't seem so little when I was yelling at CBS Sports and crying "Whyyyyyy?" in front of my computer. (I kid. Kind of.)

It turns out that one loose that doesn't seem like a big deal can cost you the opportunity to feel the thrill of victory.

The internet doesn't always work.

This seems obvious, but I think more and more we assume that the internet will work. I honestly thought I had plenty of time. This is a good wake up call that websites are made by humans, who are imperfect, and so the internet will not always work perfectly.

When I messaged my husband who was trying to help me, he assured me it would be fixed soon. It wasn't.

Do I think that CBS Sports should have been more prepared and able to address the problem in quicker, more effective way? Absolutely.

But is it reasonable to expect that 100% of sites will work 100% perfectly 100% of the time? No.

I should have allowed time for that, and I'll remember this going forward.

Acknowledging a problem and saying you're sorry matters.

Twitter exploded with people expressing frustration (and a few advance planners mocking us procrastinators).

The CBS Sports account, however, never addressed the problem and continued to post tweets like this:

CBS Sports should have acknowledged the issue. People would likely appreciate knowing that it's not just them experiencing a problem. CBS Sports could have said they were working on it. Or if they knew they were toast, it would have been nice to let us know that a fix wasn't coming and give me back that hour of my life.

The most glaring omission, though? An apology.

I couldn't find one on any of their social media accounts, the same ones they used to relentlessly promote the brackets that people could no longer access.

A simple "we're sorry" would have gone a long way. (You may remember I really love a good apology.)

Prioritizing is good even if it means you can't do it all.

This morning, I opted to get some work done for my job first, then take a break and do my picks. We all know now how that went, but prioritizing the paying work doesn't seem like the worst decision I've ever made. Bragging rights don't pay the mortgage.

Also, now I know how much I enjoy being in the pool and I'll prioritize it higher in the future, which lead me to...

There's always next year.

As my visions of bracket glory and ChicagoNow bragging rights fade into oblivion, I'm buoyed by one hopeful thought: there's always next year.

One of the many reasons I love sports is the rituals of them, that there are annual events that you can pretty much count on to happen. They return like old friends. God willing, the NCAA Tournament will take place next year, the ChicagoNow pool will happen and I'll be here and able to participate. And you better believe I'll be submitting my bracket at the first available opportunity.

* "Pool" here simply means a group of bloggers hoping for glory and bragging rights. There are no money or prizes, and no gambling, just fun.

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