I have frequently found myself longing for the month of March. The reasons for this are simple: Spring Break, nice weather, and most importantly, March Madness. I love college basketball. I savor every minute, every game, and every play. There is some high I get when filling out my bracket that I don’t find with any other sport. Every post season is spectacular, but college basketball is different.
I love March Madness for upsets. I love March Madness for those games that leave me either gaping at my TV or jumping up and down and screaming with all every part of my being. I love March Madness for the chills I get watching Kansas play and realizing that I have dedicated a few hours a week to people I have never met. I love March Madness because I love seeing Duke lose (last year this didn’t quite work out). I love March Madness because I can watch seniors take the floor one more time. I love March Madness for the Cinderella stories that can represent the underdog within all of us. I love March Madness for the sake of a true contest. There are no do-overs. There are no second chances. Every second is precious.
There is a crude, raw emotion that I don’t feel at any other time of year watching these games. Every game could be a player’s last. Their college careers over, many will graduate and move on, leaving the athletic stage once and for all. Then there are the kids that will move on to bigger venues and go pro. They are the ones that defied the odds twice. They played in high school and college and then went on to the pros.
When you combine these future greats with the senior walk-ons, you are creating an atmosphere that can’t be beat. The culmination of years of work is occurring and there are no guarantees. For many future greats, it is simply a stepping stone to a high draft pick, but to those not moving on, it is the biggest moment and the peak of their athletic careers.
It is rough. It isn’t kind. It is the time to be humbled or to be discovered. That is why I love March. You can’t define those 40 minutes. There are more than plays, players, and fans. There is a tradition that comes with March that you can sense when watching even a few seconds of one game. Every community and campus unites around a few individuals and the hopes of thousands are put on the backs of a select few. The essence of humanity bubbles to the surface as the clock winds down and as the nets are cut.
As I saw the dreary February winter fade into the month of March, I prepared myself. I am prepared to cheer, cringe, and cry all at the same time. I am ready.
With that, welcome to March.