Friday, April 01, 2005

Confessions of a (previous) College Basketball Non-fan

This is a very hard post to write. I try to stay away from subjects which I know nothing about, and NCAA basketball is one of these subjects.
Not only do I know very little, but, until a few weeks ago, it didn't bother me that I knew very little. I wasn't bothered that I was one of the rare few in my state who didn't have a preference between Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill, or that I couldn't tell you the difference between the "ACC" and the "Big Ten." Until a few weeks ago, I'd spent way more time thinking about dryer lint than college basketball.
Then why, tonight, do I find myself anxiously, excitedly awaiting tomorrow's Final Four games? Why have I consciously rearranged my schedule to make certain I don't miss a minute? What has brought about this change???
In a sentence, I tried it. In the past few weeks, I've watched about 8 games. At least 5 of these games were decided in the last 3 minutes, and 3 of them went into overtime (sometimes double). Any of these games could have easily been the best sporting event I have seen in the last year.
I absolutely cannot believe I have been missing out on this experience, this"March Madness," for the entirety of my mature life. It's so much more than sports - it's life. The total desperation of teams in the last few minutes. The looks of complete sorrow and tragedy on the sweaty faces of benched players in the final seconds of the loss. The exultation of players, crying and screaming like they've won the NBA Championship even though it's just a college semi-final. The ingenius yet simple idea of a single elimination, non-paid tournament of college kids produces entertainment that is just...priceless.
So to all of you whom I've ignored, scorned, or laughed at when you talked about the excitement of college basketball, I apologize. You were right. But I won't miss out again.