March Madness. In the opening weekends and the days to follow, the kinds of games that make the Tourney what it is, have happened. Despite bracket-breaking potential, I find myself rooting for the underdogs, for the “human interest” stories—like the Wisconsin team with the “AD-KG-NG” patches on their uniforms. What do those initials mean? They are the initials of folks who meant much to the team, coaching staff, and the basketball program—including the mother of the assistant coach. All three passed away last year—and this is now the Badgers mark their memories. Heart. That’s what these young men have. Heart. And a whole lot of talent. From UCLA to Providence, from Baylor to WVU. And those Gators just won’t go away (home state pride--sadly, those Gamecocks that Darius loves made them go away on Saturday!)—and the MTSU ---(our adopted home state) gave it their best. Admittedly, I usually get teary-eyed with those who painfully add an “L” to the column—even if it’s those teams that are coached by the real-life Godfather and his cronies.
Bracketology makes its fourth annual appearance in the homeschool lesson plan. Brackets abound, including the ever-popular and enthusiastically-debated Mascot Bracket. Geography, statistics, and the like. But, this year, I’m thinking about life lessons that can be drawn from The Big Dance. Some fairly obvious, others not so much.
1. Fundamentals are the key—If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard My Favorite Philosopher (and our offspring, echoing their wise papa) say, “You can’t win a National Championship without making free throws,” I could buy a closet-full of my beloved Converse, in multiple colors and patterns. Seriously, think about it. You can hot dog, dunk, and fade-away jumper all you like; but, when you get fouled and come to the line, you need that basic skill: a sweet, simple (or so it looks) straight-on swish. No dazzle or fireworks. Just straight ahead and shoot.
2. Don’t stop until the clock runs out—Or maybe simply, Finish Strong. I watch these young men, and they don’t give up. Even when it’s seemingly ridiculous and futile to continue the effort, they don’t slow down. They work hard. Sometimes it changes the course of the game, and sometimes, it’s the end of the road. Either way.
3. People will make mistakes that affect you and are “game-changers”—and sometimes, there is nothing you can do about it. Watch the last two minutes of the Northwestern v. Gonzaga game—and you’ll see what I mean. A horrible call. And, I’m a Zags fan.
4. Your allegiances make sense to you (and possibly, only you)—see above statement “I’m a Zags fan.” Why, you might ask. No, I’m not from Spokane or even the Pacific Northwest. In general, I’m really not much of a NBA fan—I did go through a phase in my early 20s where I was a Utah Jazz fan. HOWEVER, I am a Zags fan because:
a. John Stockton played for the Utah Jazz.
b. John Stockton totally reminds me of my best guy friend from high school, Todd.
c. So, I like John Stockton.
d. John Stockton played for Gonzaga in his undergrad days.
e. Thus, I like the Zags.
*That's likely what My Favorite Philosopher would call an illogical syllogism. But, all's fair in love, war, and basketball.*
My bracket has been beaten, battered, and torn. But, I have still have two teams left--and the team I chose to win it all has a TarHeel. And hails from a place where the sky is Carolina blue. We'll see how it all turns out.