Let the Fun Begin: March Madness

Let the Fun Begin: March Madness

Although my father’s employer transferred him to northern Ohio when I was just one year old, I link my birth in Indiana to my affinity for basketball.

The March-flavored hysteria that sparked the creation of the hit film, Hoosiers, just comes naturally to me. So I eagerly await Selection Sunday a few days hence.

It will be followed by upsets, buzzer beaters, and the kind of excitement that made 98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt of Loyola of Chicago a national folk hero a year ago.

An Early Start

Actually, with only one team (Kentucky) in our region showing early promise when it comes to making this year’s NCAA tournament, my enthusiasm for the Big Dance has been a bit subdued this year.

To compensate, my wife and I got a head start on our version of March Madness.

It began in mid-February when our grandson’s stepdaughter helped her team start its run to the state tournament in Charleston, W. Va. last weekend (which, unfortunately, ended in the semi-finals).

Until we attended several of her regular-season games and most of the tournament contests, I didn’t realize what great basketball young women are playing today.

Our great-granddaughter is a terrific three-point shooter, but so are a number of other girls on her team. They can run, pass, and rebound with the best of them, regardless of gender.

One opponent during a regular season game displayed a dazzling array of skills. Though short and wiry, she could dribble behind her back, pivot, and pass as good as any guy I’ve ever watched.

Understanding the Appeal

March Madness | Ken Walker WriterTo understand the appeal of March Madness, one has only to sit in the stands at a sectional tournament game, like I did three weeks ago.

Although a country high school gym seating thousands fewer than will attend NCAA tournament games, the place was packed to the brim with cheering fans.

Well, “erupting” fans would be more like it. As our great-granddaughter’s team raced out to a 12-0 lead, the cheers, catcalls, and thunderous applause almost made me feel sorry for the opposition.

Some family members and I were seated on the side designated for the visiting team. But  the whole gym held mostly home partisans, including a rowdy section of male students seated just to our right.

At one point, their ringleader produced a bullhorn, which he used to amplify his voice and the noisy denizens surrounding him.

To call it loud would be an understatement.

Bring it On

The commotion soon caught the attention of one referee, who stopped and said something to the home team’s coach.

Soon after, the voice of the PA announcer echoed across the gym, reminding fans that devices that artificially amplify voices weren’t permitted during games.

The gym isn’t that large, and the teenage male fans had already made their presence well-known.

Moments later, a male teacher from the school was stepping in their direction. Holding his hand out, he confiscated the bullhorn.

As he stepped into the nearby hallway to carry the horn to parts unknown, a quiet hush fell over the gym.

The stillness only served to punctuate the boisterous chorus that quickly arose from the rowdy corner.

“We don’t neeeeed it!” came the cry, accompanied by rhythmic stomping: Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

“We don’t neeeeed it! Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.

We don’t neeeeed it! Thump, thump, thump, thump, thump.”

While the catcalls soon died down, I still had to chuckle.

Bring on the Madness.

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