March Madness still infectious

As I write this column, the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament is already underway. The oddity about this annual event is that I’m not paying any attention – yet.

Television networks are promising us “March Madness,” but all I’m feeling is a bit of anxiety. This is the second year that I have been retired with no office to go to, no demands on my afternoons, no commitments to be productive instead of mesmerized by fast-paced games in ever-larger arenas. I could be turned into a bug-eyed zombie by watching four tournament games in succession and being unable to remember, three hours later, who beat whom.

I’ve been a college basketball fan for more than 50 years. Let me correct that: I’ve been a fan of one particular college basketball team for 50-plus years. I watch games involving that team with a zeal and fixation that is mental, emotional and physical.

When my children were young, they learned to accept the fact that Dad would not be available during certain televised basketball games and that he would periodically shout (nothing profane, just “No-o-o!” or “Rebound!” or “How can you miss a free throw?”) and, when necessary, stomp the floor, sometimes with both feet at once. They survived the trauma and are now basketball fans.

I’ve learned that such devotion can be hazardous to your health. When I was in college, I never missed my team’s home games. At one game, a particularly important late-season contest, I had tickets in the very top row of the university’s 10,000-seat arena (since downgraded and replaced by a bigger arena). I had a tendency, whenever things did not go the “right” way in the game, to jump from my seat, scream and shake my fists.

My seat at this game presented a problem for me. When I stood at my seat, my head hit one of the monstrous steel beams holding up the roof. It took only one bad moment for me to realize the danger. Getting walloped by a 10-ton, foot-wide steel beam will get anyone’s attention, unless that someone is fixated on what is happening on a 94-foot basketball court 200 feet below someone.

Throughout that game, which ended in a close loss for my team, I must have leaped from my seat two dozen times. To say I had a headache would be equal to saying Hamlet had a dysfunctional family.

After college, I continued my fanatical interest in my team, but I made it a point not to sit beneath any roof girders, wherever I was. I watched my basketball team on television and was grateful for the development of color television and for expanded programming that put more than one or two college games per week on broadcast networks.

Through the expansion of the ACC from eight colleges to 16, I’ve followed the tournaments. I would try to arrange my schedule so that I could see my team play in afternoon games, and I would be sure to finish dinner before the 7 p.m. game …read more

Source:: Daily times


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