“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”
– William Shakespeare, Hamlet
My entire family has come down with a dread disease. Symptoms include sleeplessness, anxiety and violent outbursts. Luckily the illness will run its course and be gone by early April. What is this strange affliction that affects behavior and makes even me skim the pages of the sports section in the newspaper? It’s March Madness, that annual season during which reasonable people gorge themselves on junk food and basketball.
I was blissfully unaware of the syndrome until I got married. Sure, I knew my husband was an avid Michigan State Spartans fan. We had even gone out to Pasadena in January of 1988, the year we were married, to see the Spartans defeat the USC Trojans. But football is different. There is only one game a week. And although in football there’s a certain amount of fever associated with the annual round of bowl games, there is just not the magnitude of 68 teams vying for a championship title.
In March I find myself seeking to escape the omnipresent television sounds of squeaking shoes on basketball courts and fans roaring – not to mention the annoying commentary by Dick Vitale, or Dickie V., as my husband affectionately refers to him. I swear the noises haunt my sleep. This year my daughter insisted we have a family basketball pool. So we all filled out our brackets despite the fact that my picks were about as educated as a chimp’s. Now I curse myself for checking on the latest game statistics. But heck, I stand to win 40 bucks!
Even our spring break plans revolve around the tournament and our hopes that our team will make it to the Final Four. But it’s hard to begrudge my husband this obsession. Other than following college sports, he has no time-consuming hobbies such as golf or bowling. He doesn’t drink or smoke. And when I see my kids sprawled on the couch with him watching a game, I appreciate the family bonding that can take place when we have a team to root for.
I also enjoy reading stories about some of the prominent players each year. Jabari Parker, a kid from Chicago, is realizing his dream of playing at Duke under the legendary Coach Mike Krzyzewski. According to a Sports Illustrated article, (Yes, I’ve even developed an interest in sports literature!) Parker and Coach K. have developed a special bond, and mentoring the freshman has helped the coach regain his focus after the tragic loss of his brother this season.
An MSU Spartan senior named Adreian Payne has befriended a young fan who is currently fighting cancer. Recently she helped him cut down the net after the Spartans won the Big Ten Tournament. Payne is a 6 foot 10 inch tall man who could have left college to play in the NBA. Instead he will be the first member of his family to graduate from college.
These heartwarming stories, as well as the exciting upsets, such as Dayton’s defeat of Ohio State, are what make March Madness so crazy and yet so much fun. I can’t pretend that I will catch all the games, but I will be happy to order the pizza, cede control of the TV remote, and welcome the madness.