Are there any upsets in your brackets?

Columnist Myron Friesen writes "When I work with a strong farm family that has generations of deep roots, I will pick them to win in my bracket every time.

A man and a woman, each holding children, stand in a field next to a yellow tractor.
Myron Friesen discusses the importance of having a plan and putting in the work to win at life and farming.
Erin Ehnle Brown / Grand Vale Creative LLC

March Madness has been especially crazy this year. Upsets are everywhere. Teams that barely made the tournament are somehow winning games. Traditional power schools are at home watching. What is going on?

First, there is always upsets in sports. That is why they play the game. Second, I might have an idea why this is happening and why there may be more upsets in the future. Here are my reasons why:

1. Power schools tend to get the biggest and best athletes who have already traveled the country and have been so many places that losing a game is not heartbreaking.

myron friesen.png
Myron Friesen

2. Elite athletes are good but, in many cases, they have shallow roots. They are thinking about being a ‘one year and done’ in college and are more worried about their stats then the team results.

3. Big name college athletes are now getting ‘paid to play’ with the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) opportunity. Money changes things.


4. The transfer portal makes it easy to move on. If you don’t like your coach or you aren’t playing enough, just transfer to another school without consequence.

5. Less recruited players stay on the same team with the same teammates for several years. They build a bond and fight together for something greater.

6. At second and third tiered schools the coaches can coach rather than pacifying the players who have always been told how great they are.

7. When the going gets tough, teams that have been together longer fight harder. Yes, sometimes they cry when they lose because it hurts that bad.

8. Less recruited players are motivated more by the love of the game not just the love of money.

9. Underdogs know they need a plan, and they need to follow it to succeed.

10. Fans go wild cheering for the underdog. They love to see hard work and passion rewarded.

What can we learn on the farm?

1. Some farms and farmers always seem to have an advantage with acres and finances. That is life, deal with it. Appreciate what you have.


2. Some farmers are ‘one generation and done’. They do it for themselves, not to help the next generation.

3. Life isn’t fair, but while you’re struggling in life your roots are growing deeper.

4. There’s not a farming transfer portal. If you don’t like your situation, then work and think yourself into a better situation.

5. There are a lot of 500 to 2,500 acre farmers out there that are really good. Maybe not the biggest names around the community but there are multiple generations of families working together.

6. Focus on what matters. Figure out how to compete and what you can do better. Complaining seldom wins games.

7. Forty years later, farmers still talk about the difficulties of the 80s. It was a horrible time to see people lose what they worked hard for. Yes, there were tears!

8. Farmers are capitalists too, but they usually love what they do. They love their families and their way of life; they respect their neighbors, and care for the land and livestock.

9. You don’t have to plan on the farm, but you will have to compete with those who do. Winners usually have a plan.


10. Farmers value relationships. Many retiring farmers want to help the next generation that has the same passion as they do.

Maybe upsets aren’t always upsets when you dig a little deeper. Usually, the winning team earns the win by working for it rather than thinking they are entitled to it. When I work with a strong farm family that has generations of deep roots, I will pick them to win in my bracket every time. They don’t look at ratings, they just keep working at it and finding ways to win. It is not an upset.

Myron Friesen is the co-owner of Farm Financial Strategies Inc. in Osage, Iowa. He can be contacted at 866-524-3636 or

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