I Love Me Some (College) Basketball

It’s March and just like in years past, my house will undergo an extreme transformation. Life as my family knows it will screech to a halt. There will be no food preparation except for heating frozen pizzas and microwave popcorn. Phone calls will not be returned. The television will be commandeered, the remote will be hogged and any attempt to change the channel will be met with a shrill, “DON’T TOUCH THAT THING!” For four weeks, my house is utterly possessed by a potent force and I am powerless to control it. No, it’s not a Linda Blair meets Lucifer moment, it’s March Madness, baby! And the one that needs the basketball exorcism is me.

My family tries to pretend that life is normal even though I have become a stark raving lunatic totally unrelated to hormones. But they tiptoe around me in my month long, semi-rabid state over college hoops. “Mom, here’s something to eat,” my oldest says as he drops a bag of microwave popcorn at my feet. This is either his attempt to pacify the crazy woman in the basement or grab the remote when I’m distracted. But most of the time, I am left to my own devices: no one can stand to be in the house with me. Because March Madness brings out the irrational and illogical side of my personality – shrieking at people who can’t even hear me.

At first blush, this basketball obsession seems somewhat odd for a short middle-aged woman who has never played the sport. On a good day, I can manage a three inch vertical trying to reach something on the top shelf. But I come from a long line of season ticket holding, college basketball fanatics. In fact, I’m betting we are direct descendants of James Naismith who tossed the first ball into a peach basket.

For me, March Madness does not involve slack jawed watching or arm chair coaching. I’m constantly on my feet in my own personal full court press as I rant and rave my way around the family room shouting at refs for bad calls. I probably get more aerobic exercise than if I were training for a marathon. If it weren’t for the steady stream of popcorn, I might even lose weight.

And just as important as the opportunity to rationalize watching college basketball 24/7 is my second favorite part of the season: Bracketology. Hubby and I have a not-so-friendly, battle of the sexes competition in choosing the 65 teams on the Road to the Final Four. My preparation starts early with the Sports Illustrated College Basketball Preview Issue supplemented with a daily dose of the sports page and Sports Center. My research approaches a fervor generally reserved for those taking the bar exam. In my quest to be a basketball oracle, I use flash cards. I use flow charts. I use my Magic 8-Ball.

I love everything about the final hurrah of my favorite sports season. I love the upsets, the overtimes, the last second, game winning shots (see Laettner, Christian – whose last second shot to beat Kentucky in 1992 ranks among my favorite moments in college basketball). I love the Cinderella Team that plays with such heart that you can’t help but root for them. I love it that despite my best efforts it’s still a toss up who will make it to the next round. But in the midst of this uncertainty, there’s one thing I do know for sure. At my house, March is sheer madness.

Our family’s basketball jones is a genetic condition. I am not related to the guy in the middle, but I’m guessing The Parental Unit adopted him.

Update on Monday, March 8, 2010 at 08:25AM by Denise
After posting, I realized that some of you may not be familiar with the basketball jones. It is from a 1975 Cheech & Chong animated short film to promote the release of their song Basketball Jones featuring Tyrone Shoelaces, a teenager who loved basketball. The song actually has some big name performers including George Harrison on guitar, Carole King on piano and Billy Preston on the organ. I’ve provided the link to the YouTube video below but be forewarned, it is very un-PC by today’s standards. But if you’re even vaguely familiar with Cheech & Chong, then you shouldn’t be surprised.