Sunday, March 17, 2013
Still... The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
I know that seems downright impossible, reading this blog, or listening to my shows.
But I am. I swear.
When I see these basketball programs gathered in front of a TV, or maybe a jumbo-tron at their stadium backed by thousands of loyal fans, I still get that romantic sports tingle in my soul.
Look at them.
These are kids of all backgrounds. From the hood to the cul-de-sac. Black, white and in-between, with coaches, coaches wives and kids, other program members and their families.
And I see their pure joy at just seeing their team name on a big bracket next to a number?
Damn. It's magic. Still, magic.
I guess it's because I was once part of such a family, as the once-upon-a-time radio play-by-play voice of the good ol' UC Santa Barbara Gauchos. I've felt the elation of being an at-large berth (1990) and the sting choking away an almost sure bid by losing in the first round of the Big West tournament as the #1 seed.(1992).
The professionals, they just don't care. Not like the amateurs They care. Deeply. They act stupid, dance around, hug each other when they win. And they cry in a puddle on the court when they lose.
Go ahead. Say the modern D-1 college "kid" is nothing more than an exploited, unpaid professional, I say bullshit to that.
Look at the faces of the kids leaping in the air for Gonzaga, just to see that they were a 1-seed after all, a forgone conclusion, in my mind. The reaction was amazing, as if they were kids at Christmas seeing a pile of presents under the tree, after being told by their parents not to expect much.
None of them gave a shit about how much money CBS was paying the NCAA. None of them cares that they don't own the video game rights to their jersey number.
They are just living the joy of being an athlete, in a sport they love. At the (second) highest level in the world.
It's beautiful. It's magical. And it does not exist anywhere else in our current sports ecosystem.
Given the absolutely cynical and corrupt moral death spiral pro sports are in these days, it makes March Madness seem even better by comparison.
I am so, so, ready for this tournament. Let's tip it off, and see what happens.