Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Why I Love March Madness

Growing up, I would have been considered the sports fanatic in my family -- and that's not saying much. I went to a few spring training games with friends, I tried to catch the big U of A vs. ASU rivalry game every November, and because I was in the school band, I saw all of our football and basketball games by default.

However, the one sporting event I have truly loved since I was young is March Madness. And, thanks to names like Sean Elliot, Steve Kerr, and of course, Lute Olson, Arizona became my team. And while I will always cheer on the Wildcats, I just love the tournament in general. Why?

1. It's something that my husband and I share and enjoy together. In 1997 when the Cats won the championship, it was the single greatest moment of my NCAA-lovin' life. The next year, when Utah took out Arizona in the Sweet 16, it was the greatest moment of Dan's Ute-lovin' life. Every year, we fill out our brackets, and there have been several times that I've done much better than him. And it's paid off. I've won new shoes, massages, and a month's worth of him making the bed. Let's just not talk about this year's brackets, okay?

2. It's just plain fun to walk into various places of business and see all the little brackets posted on the walls. It makes me laugh. It reminds me that we all need a little escape, that tournament brackets, whether you follow the teams or not, are something in which we can all participate. I mean, who would have predicted anything about Harvard this year?

3. Beyond that, March Madness is a good metaphor for life. Not everyone is invited to the party, and not everyone gets a trophy. Sometimes (and this was tough) not even Arizona is invited. Some people show up who have rich and/or famous dads (yeah, Tim Hardaway, Jr.). It's messy and it's sloppy. One moment it's all going your way and the next moment everyone seems to be ganging up on you. It can get ugly -- people lose teeth and break legs. In slow motion, some plays are absolutely beautiful. There are buzzer beaters that take your breath away and you find yourself holding out hope until the very. last. possible. second. And then Cinderella shows up and you HAVE to cheer for the underdog, because what kind of a monster would you be if you always cheered for Duke the #1 seeds? The best, of course, is when your own team is the Cinderella team. And honestly, how can you not love a white kid named Spike who comes into the championship averaging 2 points per game and then scores 17 points in 17 minutes of play? To quote Luther Vandross, he got his "One Shining Moment."

Finally, when you win, it's pure elation. When you lose, you pick yourself up and try again the next year. And THAT'S why I love March Madness. See you next year, boys.

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