In the last week of February, my son’s 5th-grade basketball team hit a last-second wide-open three, on an out of bounds underneath play, to win their league tournament semifinal game against a team that has, for the most part, had our number the last two seasons. The instant eruption of ten-year-olds on the court, me launching myself out of my seat at the end of our bench hands into the air, and our team expending every ounce of emotion but finding enough to eke out a championship game two hours later felt like nothing short of March Madness.
Here we are, and it feels great. And what feels even better…the return of GBQ’s Green Bagel St. Patrick’s Day breakfast tradition! I may be biased, but this is one of the best March traditions you’ll find in Columbus. Click here for the history of why St. Patrick’s Day meant so much to one of the original founding partners, and you too will understand why this feels like your normal March.
However, I cannot celebrate the arrival of March without mentioning my pure, PURE ENJOYMENT of what transpired in Durham, NC last weekend.
One particular school insisted on the most pretentious sports television broadcast in the history of TV. For one night, they pretended like the arrogance of Mike One-Letter should be mentioned in the same sentence as Derek Jeter. Then, hours later, by asking the NCAA to place Duke in the upcoming tournament regional hosted in Chicago so One-Letter can play in front of his hometown, they proved the entire campus truly believes one person is bigger than the game itself. Duke again found a way to give 95% of the country even more reason to dislike its program.
While the majority of my enjoyment had to do with the dreary late-game on-court performance Saturday, my appreciation actually comes from the handshake line. Fortunately, we’re not talking about the trading blows type of handshake line that grabs national headlines (ahem, Juwan Howard). I’m talking about two former Duke players on Coach One-Letter’s staff, one for refusing to even shake North Carolina Head Coach Hubert Davis’ hand, and one for blatantly turning his head while extending a dead fish in Davis’ direction.
Again, there’s a significant amount of bias in this entire discussion. I’ll refrain from diving into detail about the fact that Hubert Davis is hands down my favorite college basketball player and simply say he’s one of the classiest individuals in all of sports. Rather, let’s focus on the massive sense of entitlement stemming from creating the most outlandish, arrogant, and overreaching pre-game ceremony in sports that can only result in one thing…karma. Taking one person and making him bigger than the sport results in defeat. To be honest, it results in an enormous distraction, which in turn, results in defeat.
It might have only been one game, but it was a big game, hence the pregame nonsense and numerous A-listers wearing their first Duke shirt who I will no longer support. The countless images of post-game tear-soaked smeared makeup showering social media around 9 pm Saturday night will go down in history.
March Madness is here! And it feels a lot more like March Madness from last year. And just the fact that there is madness makes us a world apart from the canceled NCAA tournament festivities of 2020.
What is up with the handshake line lately anyway? When did it become the poster child for whining? Do I hate that it just so happens to be Michigan and Duke in the conversation? Nope. Hands down my two favorite targets. Remember when this was a show of sportsmanship, the bite your lip, stare into your opponent’s face, and take the beating you were just handed. For less than a minute, you have to forget whatever slights you felt you were handed and just man up. Unless you’re Duke. Unless you’re Michigan. As usual, talking heads and their excuses…all week…to why this is ok. It’s not, just to be clear.
Lastly, if you have the meme of Juwan Howard punching the Wisconsin assistant that says, “If Juwan Howard should be punching someone over a called timeout, he ought to start with Chris Weber”, please send it to me. I would like to save it as my laptop backdrop.