Like most fans of March Madness, Jeff Brazzale loves filling out the brackets to predict who will win the NCAA basketball championship.
He did not get his chance this year, however, because the Coronavirus halted sports a week before the tournament was to begin.
Soon after, the Sheboygan Community Recreation Department supervisor had an idea to create his own bracket.
Always looking for something different and fun to keep people interested in the rec department, especially now, the 1993 North graduate created one for people to vote on the best all-time tag games on the SCRD’s Facebook page.
“Anything we can do to go ahead and bring some happiness or joy to the community is great,” Brazzale said. “I actually had a few people reach out to me to ask if we’re doing other brackets for other recreation department things. And there’s a chance we might. But in general, it was just great to go ahead and get some people take their mind off of what else is going on in the world.”
Capture the Flag defeated Ghosts in the Graveyard in the final round to win the championship of the 20-’team’ tournament, which didn’t surprise Brazzale.
“The more I talked with other people or when people reached out to me as the bracket went on, it felt like that was one of people’s favorites,” he said.
Because of his job – and the fact he played tag as a youngster – Brazzale says he knew of about 10 tag games. He then looked up some others on the internet to make his bracket larger.
There were some I’d never heard of – or don’t remember – like Mr. Alligator or Hospital Tag.
“From my experience running games with kids, (Hospital Tag) is where you have doctors and patients,” Brazzale said. “And if you tag a patient as a doctor, then they get better and they can start running around.”
Lava Monster and Stuck in Mud didn’t ring a bell, either.
“Man, I’ve been playing (Stuck in Mud) for I bet you 40 years – and I’m 45,” Brazzale said. “It’s basically the same as freeze tag except for the fact you actually have to go under someone’s legs in order for them to be able to get out of the ‘mud.’ So it’s basically freeze tag with a variation of it.”
Brazzale admitted he did not remember Hot Dog Tag, but his daughter, sitting next to him, reminded her father it is when the tagged person lays down and waits for two others to lay next to you like the buns of a hot dog in order to be able to get up and run again.
The ‘teams’ were even seeded by Brazzale, with the help of 13-year-old Grant and 10-year-old Elise.
But this was done as a conversation piece and not based on any research or who they thought the likely winners would be like the NCAA does for the basketball tournament.
That explains why the No. 8 seed (Capture the Flag) and No. 11 (Ghosts in the Graveyard) advanced to the title round.
“Exactly,” Brazzale said. “The top seeds, I thought, would do well. But yeah, I definitely was somewhat shocked it was an 8 versus 11 at the end.”
Top-seeded Freeze Tag and No. 3 Man from Mars were upset in the quarterfinal round, and No. 2 Sharks and Minnows and No. 4 Duck, Duck, Goose were beat in the semifinals.
The bracket was posted by rounds and people were allowed to vote on Facebook each time.
In the final, Capture the Flag had 67% of the vote compared to 33% for Ghosts in the Graveyard.
I reached out to a few who voted for the winner but they did not respond (must want to stay out of the limelight or keep all the focus solely on the champion).
South graduate Erin Rakow wanted Ghosts to win and says she doesn’t like the boring Capture the Flag.
“There was no thrill in it,” Rakow said.
She played it in school “when she had to,” but loved playing Ghosts with her friends in her neighborhood.
“I’d like to say I was better than everybody else, but I think we all say that,” Rakow said. “But there was a lot of screaming, so I guess are parents always knew where we were.”
The game was best when it was really dark out, according to Rakow, which explains the time someone fell into a neighbor’s in-ground pool as they were running.
“It wasn’t me,” she said.