Oh boy. We are almost there. With each passing day it gets closer…and the anticipation builds.
Of course I am speaking of March Madness and the greatest four days of the year. I mean, if we were ranking a single best day of the year, definitely Christmas would be number 1. But if you are looking for a stretch of days that is better than any other, forget spring break, cast away the idea of Thanksgiving weekend, and look no further than the first four days of the NCAA college basketball tournament.
Now I can hear the detractors warming up already.
“Ugh, basketball. I hate basketball. And it ruins my television watching schedule for two weeks in a row.” As a Person of Interest fan who has to take a leave of absence from my favorite show, I get this complaint…but it’s bogus. Why? Because I say so.
“I don’t like sports. They’re boring.” Umm, WHAT?!? Thirty-two games in thirty-six hours where the loser’s season is done and the winner moves on for a chance at immortal glory? How can anything be more compelling than that?
Since I was in high school I have lived for this event. I fill out my brackets and I gorge myself on basketball for days. When I went on my mission, I nearly succumbed to insanity for having to miss it two years in a row. I missed the infamous Chris Webber time-out. I’m sure it was against mission rules, but thankfully my mother sent me the Sports Illustrated detailing it all at my request.
About fifteen years ago, my friends and I came up with a concept. Why not give our wives a break from non-stop basketball and get together to watch the first Friday’s games at a sports bar near ASU campus. The first year we did this, ASU was in the tournament and both ASU and UofA played on the same night. It was heaven. My friends and I became part of the game vicariously along with 150 of our suddenly closest friends whom we had never met before. A tradition was born. Every year since, I have made my way to a sports bar with my friends from those college days and we eat chicken wings and watch basketball. I have detailed this somewhat on a previous blog.
(As an aside, the other night, I took my two boys to an ASU basketball game and we stopped and had dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings. I wanted to begin indoctrinating them on the joys of wings and b-ball. The place was busy and so we had to sit in the bar. That is where my friends and I normally sit during the March Madness weekend. I thought surely they would have a great time and begin looking forward to joining me in my March tradition when they were a little older. Sadly, I learned I am raising at least one boy who is much more righteous than I. After being seated, he leaned over to me and said, “Don’t ever do this to me again.” I replied, “Do what?” “Make me eat in a bar.” He was dead serious. Maybe this is a tradition that will not be passed on for generations.)
Anyway, a few years ago, my friend, Heath, suggested that since we now have to travel to Mesa from Thatcher for this event, we should throw our golf clubs in the car and get a round of golf in at a nicer course down in the valley. I couldn’t think of a better idea, so we did.
In the four short years since that harmless little round of golf, insanity has taken root and a truly grand event has been born. What started out as a round became two rounds when we realized the amazing price we could get if we played the same course twice. Then, since we were missing work on Friday anyway, we figured we might as well get up early and leave town at day break and get a third round in on Friday before going to watch basketball, with the other two rounds coming the next day on Saturday…
…And since we are playing three rounds of golf, why not make a trophy and give it to the person who has the best overall score from the three rounds AND engrave their name on the trophy and the year they won. It makes total sense doesn’t it? Yeah, my wife doesn’t think so either, but she is a kind, patient…long-suffering woman.
So last year, the members of my golf foursome and I took part in the first annual March Madness Invitational. I didn’t win. But I am hooked. And I am almost breathless in anticipation for this year’s March Madness Invitational and the corresponding basketball watching with wings and unlimited Dr. Pepper. I think a portion of heaven for me will require this weekend to continue into the eternities.
Now, as an author, I tend to write about what I know. And that is why both my love of the NCAA tournament and my love of golf both make an appearance in THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER. They certainly don’t play a major role, but they are there. How could two things so important not be?
Speaking of THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER, my brother continues to work diligently on my behalf. Last week, he sent me another e-mail from Stephen Carter, editor of Sunstone Magazine. Sunstone, as an organization, has been around since the 1970s and in their own words, “serves…Latter-Day Saints and others for whom life and faith is a wonderful but unique adventure. Sunstone brings together traditional and non-traditional Latter-day Saints, promoting an atmosphere that values faith, intellectual and experiential integrity.”
In other words, they were the “and I’m a Mormon” campaign long before the Church marketing department decided to make that their feature catch phrase.
Anyway, Stephen Carter had this to say about THE RELUCTANT BLOGGER:
I can only imagine how busy Mr. Carter must be, and so it is with the utmost gratitude and humility that I wish to thank him for his time in reading my book and for his kind words of endorsement.
I am so appreciative that I’m inviting him to join us at the Gilbert, AZ Buffalo Wild Wings on March 22nd for chicken wings, unlimited carbonated refreshment and basketball. But if he is even a half-decent golfer, he is sadly disqualified from the March Madness Invitational. I don’t care how nice his endorsement is, I want my name on that trophy.
I still sing “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” the first weekend of the NCAA tourney every year. My wife is never amused.
Well, call my cell phone when you get ready to sing it. I will laugh. In fact, I will sing with you. Maybe all she needs is a little additional peer pressure.