It's that time again when all there is on TV is basketball. They call it 'March Madness' and I must confess I'm mad about it! No, not mad that all you can watch is basketball for the next two weeks, but mad, like crazy about it, can't get enough obsessive, out of my mind possessed with it!
I've loved this sport since I made the first-ever girls' team at Vincentian High in 1959. In those days there were six players on the court which was literally divided into two sections, one for the three offensive players, and one for those on defense (3). Neither group was permitted to cross the center line. I was a defender since I couldn't hit the side of a barn when it came to scoring points. However I was a scrappy player who fought like mad to steal the ball and throw it to the other side where the shooters were waiting patiently for their chance to make a bucket.
Sounds weird to you, doesn't it? Actually the game had its highs and lows just like it does today. Taking the ball away from the opposing team and heaving it to my teammates was just as exciting then as it it now. The fans in the bleachers howled with delight, knowing their team had another chance to put two more on the scoreboard. When points resulted, we, the defenders were elated that our efforts made it possible even though those on offense took the bows.
Girls' high school teams didn't look like they do now for another reason, too. We didn't wear the cool tank tops and silky shorts that they jump around in these days. Ours was a one piece cotton suit that zipped up the middle and showed as little skin as possible. I think the shorts came down to our knees, and we wore socks that stretched almost to our knees, so the only body parts showing below the waist were our knee caps! But we weren't embarrassed since that was the look of the times, and we were just proud to be wearing the coveted uniform of the Vincentian girls' basketball team.
I have no idea whether or not we ever played in a championship game, but my guess is we didn't. But what was important then was that I got the chance to play the game I loved. Just being on the court representing my high school gave me such a high, one that if I close my eyes now, I can still remember with pride and satisfaction. Being part of the team gave me such a feeling of belonging, and the opportunity to form bonds with the other players that existed long after the wins and defeats were in the history books.
I suspect that the teams going into the NCAA 2016 Tournament experience similar emotions. Every player truly loves the game because if they didn't they wouldn't put themselves through all the grueling practices and travel that basketball demands. They wouldn't expose themselves to possible injury and humiliating defeat. The sense of belonging and the ties that bind forever are much more important than what the score columns show. Yes, winning this year's NCAA tournament would be a dream come true for any of the participating teams, but basketball provides so much more than winning the final four, it prepares you for life and supplies you with friendships and memories that will live on in your heart long after the lights on the courts are dimmed.
Of course I've filled out my brackets and am hopeful the team I've selected to win it all will succeed. However I'm not going to reveal my choice to you at this time. You'll just have to wait and see.
Go __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __!