Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Madness

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: March means many things to many people. "In like a lion, out like a lamb." Lent. St. Patrick's Day (also my sister's birthday! Happy Birthday, Barb!) If you're a high school junior, SAT prep classes. If you're marrying in the summer, last chance to nail down those rentals. In my household, however, March means one thing and one thing only:

NCAA College Basketball Championships.

I did not grow up a devotee of March Madness. My father is one of those rare men who has no interest in sports. When in high school, I dated a basketball player, but I met him at District Choral competition. All my college boyfriends were artsy guys who took me to experimental theatre and foreign film festivals. I had a vague tribal loyalty to Syracuse hoops, but unless I was hanging out with friends who had the game on, I never followed the season.

Then I met Ross. A Georgetown grad, on our second date he took me to a GU-Arkansas game. "Our place" was a sports bar in Georgetown with five-inch-thick burgers and TVs on every wall. I learned terms like "Big East" and "three-pointer" and "zone defense." Ever the romantic, the first gift he bought me, as we walked back to my house on a chilly March evening, was a navy-and-gray scarf. With a picture of a bulldog on it.

Reader, I married him. Since then, I've learned to love Saturday afternoons in front of the television, roars of approval that frighten the cats, and family room decor that includes a giant polystyrene finger that reads HOYA SAXA - lovingly preserved for over twenty-five years. I've learned to never assume Ross will be available without first checking the game schedule. Fortunately -- or was it planning? -- none of the children were born this month. Given the choice between the delivery room and a Final Four game, I'm not sure Ross would have gone with the kid.

How about you, Reds? Are you fans? Married to fans? Waving fans?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, I'm from Indiana. There's that. And now live in Boston. There's that. And my husband is from New York. There's that. So no way to we escape sports. Once, dear Reds, I even watched a WHOLE hockey game, and enjoyed it.

And do I get to say: What the hell's a Hoya?

JULIA: It means "What Rocks" in Latin and Greek. Don't ask me why.

HANK: As for March Madness..let me just say Jonathan and I have dueling brackets. And I'm not gonna tell you who I picked. Even though I do it by "a bear could beat an eagle" type of decision-making, as of this instant, they are still contenders. By the end of Sunday, who knows. Crossing fingers.

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh we're crazy for March Madness--but in Connecticut we're basketball crazy all year. We follow UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma's recruiting efforts and start mourning the graduation of our favorite stars when they begin their sophomore years. We couldn't get over how one of our future stars, a recruit from Delaware, bailed out of the UConn machine and went home to play for Delaware. (She's making news there now--traitor.)

One year not too long after John and I were married, I cut out a full-sized photo of Geno and taped it on the wall over our bed. Honestly it took him 2 days before he noticed it, but then we laughed for days. He could understand a crush like that--after all, Geno shapes our FAMILY every year!

(PS we like watching the guys too, with Coach Calhoun, but those players rotate off the team so quickly, it's hard to get too attached.)

HALLIE EPHRON: March Madness? Not so much. Basketball games make me nervous. Too much running back and forth too fast... to put a technical spin on it. I'm more a baseball fan. I watch the first two innings of every Red Sox game and sleep through the rest.

I do have a soft spot for college hockey. My husband and my first date was a semi-finals college hockey game between Cornell and I can't remember who in New York's Madison Square Garden. I went to see a pro game a few years later and it seemed like an entirely different sport.

What I REALLY can't understand is why anyone would watch a golf game. Playing golf I can just barely get my arms around. But watching one? Can someone 'splain me that? Lucy??

JAN BROGAN - My son was a high school basketball player, so I spent a LOT of time watching him and loving it. I've also been to a lot of Celtics games, especially in the 80s, but in March, my mind turns to spring training and my true obsessions, BASEBALL. I'm a die-hard Red Sox fan and that leaves precious little time for anything else. Except tennis, which I also love to watch. So just finished with the Indian Wells tournament and waiting for the French Open... And Hallie, I don't get the watching golf either. Or Monster Trucks, for that matter.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: My father watched golf, horse racing, and football, in that order. I stuck with the horse racing. I'm with Hallie on the golf... But my daughter played both girl's softball and soccer, and in the process I fell in love with baseball. (One of these days the Texas Rangers are gonna win the Series, they really are!) I like watching soccer but have trouble keeping up with who's who. Basketball totally confuses me. I don't think I've ever even been to a basketball game. All my friends, and my daughter, are basketball crazy, so I'm sure I must be missing out.

My husband, by the way, doesn't watch any sports at all. He likes camping videos on You Tube. Go figure.

I, however, to uphold my sporting reputation, will be watching the Summer Olympics obsessively.

And the Oxford/Cambridge Boat Race. (That's rowing, as you might have guessed:-))

JULIA: Camping videos? Camping videos? And I thought "What Rocks" was strange. How about you, dear readers? Have you filled out your bracket?


  1. The only sport I like is swimming: There's no touching and everybody stays clean.

    Camping videos? LOL. Although, sounds perfect for a mystery novel, n'est-ce pas?

    (Lucy, about the girl from Delaware, she's a victim of the Edgar Allan Poe curse. If you enter a certain tavern in town he cursed, you never leave Newark. Why do you think I'm still here?)

  2. Yes, I want to hear about the camping videos too. In fact, I must see one. Can you post a link Debs?

    Hallie, the golf thing is easy--it's very relaxing, until things go wrong:) and then it's the most exciting thing in the world. You can see a guy who's got a huge lead crumble in front of an international TV audience. Or...never mind, we'll watch next time I see you!

  3. ps Ramona, that's fascinating! they should warn people...

  4. Ah, women after my own heart. Sports fan all the way here. My parents took us to high school football & basketball games. (Our girls won the state championship twice.) My mother is a rabid college basketball fan. March Madness is her favorite time of year. I'm a Duke and Ohio State fan. And, being from Ohio, it's Ohio State all the way in basketball & football. Those are my first 2 sports loves, but I'll also watch NASCAR, with even tennis and golf once in a while. And, I'll watch the Olympics withe the rest of the country and Deborah.

  5. I am not a sports fan. Except for figure skating. (I even took lessons when I was in my twenties. I flunked the lesson on falling,though, and the instructor seemed to think I was a Lost Cause from that point on.) When I hear people throwing around sports terms and I KNOW they are speaking English (at least I THINK they are) but I don't understand what on earth the words mean, it's hard not to worry that I might have had a stroke! It's a relief to realize that they're just speaking "sports".

    In college I attended a handful of basketball games and found that I actually enjoyed myself. Then I tried watching basketball on TV but found it to be a little boring. Because I live in CT I am of course a UConn ladies fan even though I never watch the games. Just as you cannot change your eye color,you cannot help but be a UConn ladies fan here. People here fill you in on what's happening even if you don't ask them to. If you run into someone somewhere and the person tells you "I have to go home to watch the ladies",you just KNOW they are talking about UConn basketball. Even I know that much.

    My youngest sister is such an avid/rabid UConn fan that I've learned not to call her when there's a game on TV. If I visit her, I leave for home if a game is about to begin. She applies all her brain cells towards concentrating on the game. You'd think the players were her own daughters!

    Baseball? Not really my thing, although by birth I am a Yankees fan.(You can't choose your relatives,you can't change your eye color, you must be a fan of the team your fanatical relatives follow. Except that somehow my sister the UConn fan grew up to be a Mets fan. At least she's a New York fan.)

    Football??? Oh, God,no!!! I'd rather spend the afternoon at the dentist! The longest I've ever been able to tolerate a football game before leaving the room or picking up a book is five minutes.

  6. Lucy, I'll bring my pillow for watching that golf game.

    Though I love your description: it's very relaxing, until things go wrong:) and then it's the most exciting thing in the world. Sounds like Life.

    And my favorite football thing to watch is the last 5 minutes of a game. It's so long and drawn out, and they recap everything that came before.

  7. Go Broncos!

    Love football. Basketball, hockey, baseball . . . not so much. Actually like watching golf, maybe because I play. Adore figure skating and gymnastics.

  8. Does anyone know if gremlins are attacking JRW today? It took me three tries to get back to today's JRW blog post. I kept coming up with something from May 2008when I clicked on "comments".

    Hallie...are you implying that golf is a soporific? If so, perhaps I should buy DVDs of golf games to keep on hand for sleepless nights!

    Time to head off to my Saturday "sport": tossing laundry into various receptacles, snatching it back again, adjusting the paraphernalia after things wind down...AKA "folding".

    See you later,Reds writers and readers! (If I can get by the gremlins.)

  9. Basketball. No. Boring.
    Growing up, Dad was a Big Red Machine fan (Cincinnati Reds)so of course I was one. Now in his 70s he watched several baseball games a day -- he's lost his hearing now but with the games you don't need to hear to know what's going on. However, having been to a handful of pro games there is just no comparison. If I lived a big city, I would have to figure out a way to get season tickets. I love the smells and noises. For a while, my brother in law worked for the Rockies so that was fun.
    One of the first dates with my husband was at a local minor league hockey game. I told him if a puck came my way to protect me. Oh yeah yeah. OF COURSE, a puck hit me at my first game, right in the shoulder. OF COURSE Steve MOVED IN THE OTHER OTHER DIRECTION. I can watch hockey on tv.
    Football, yes. Soccer, no. Unfortunately not having the control of the remote control, over the years I've learned more about racing, fighting/wrestling and shooting than I ever wanted.
    Olympics - I prefer Winter to Summer. Too much sweating and running.

  10. Coming over to watch golf! And bringing a book. MAybe--Rhys's NY TIMES BESTSELLER?????

    And I'm sell not talking about my march madness choices. I m still in it. ALl I'm saying. But on the verge of out.

    And Hallie, I agree about the last five mins. I love all sports seasons..because Jonathan watches on TV, and I can go to my study and write and he doesn't miss me. Then I come in for the let five mins!

  11. These videos are actually "bush craft" and there's apparently a huge audience for this stuff.

    This link is from a guy who's my favorite, an adorable Austrian named Sepp. But you follow these different people, who post regular videos. There are some women, too, who are really good.

    Virtual camping :-)

  12. Grew up in an athletic family w/sports-playing and watching dad and brother, and sports-indifferent mother (though she did bowl, golf, and even fish!). Played them all. And I am a Notre Dame grad -- you have to watch a game a year or your forfeit your diploma. But a few years without TV access (most of the 1990s) seems to have wiped out my sports-watching gene. And then I married a guy who hikes, sails, does martial arts -- and doesn't even know what ESPN stands for. (Does anyone, actually?) But I've been known to go to a sports bar alone for the World Series and playoffs, and have now even turned my hunny into an October fan. :)

  13. Julia, I hate March Madness. Living in Kansas City, MO here where March Madness made driving and life miserable for many years.

    Actually, I played basketball on a championship team when I was in high school in Oklahoma (back in the day when they made girls play half-court) before I moved to Kansas where there were no girls high school sports, at all. Huge shock! I used to follow college and pro basketball avidly, but over the years, the game has changed so much from the game of skill it used to be plus I gave up television. We're a house divided--I'm UMKC and K-State, Ben's Missouri and KU--but neither of us is a big sports fan. You can't live in KC and not know what's going on with those teams, though.

    I love the idea of camping videos, Deb! I'd rather not do the actual camping anymore, but watching someone else do it in the wilderness would be fun, I think.

  14. Definitely gremlins post disappeared. Lots o sports in the harris household. B is watching NCAA but I'm watching Sony Ericsson Tennis.
    The camping video is a HOOT. "because of the dropping water..I put the line...I look for firewood..ya! I can cook my coffee. I am sitting on a dry place and it only took two hours.))
    One day I'll post some of our camping pix.

  15. I'm with Hank on the last five minutes of every game. Best thing to do is tape all sports and fast foreward to the end, sort of like flipping through the book to see how it all turns out.

    Except baseball, of course. Then I have to watch every inning.

    And Julia, I'm deep into the mid-19th century research where your "sporting reputation" would mean something else ENTIRELY.

  16. Baseball definitely, football is ok, ice hockey is exhausting, and basketball player DO look as if they are running back and forth, also exhausting. I root for the Red Sox for my fabulous time in Boston, and the SF Giants which is I where I live now. The olympics because they're colorful and exciting.

  17. I have a camping video, but I am not sharing. xo

  18. Oh yeah, sorry. Sox. Red Sox. The closer I am to the Green Monster the better.

  19. I can't believe that Blogger ate my post again! I'm sure I had brilliant and witty insights, now lost in the ether!

  20. The only sport that interests me is college football (Go Blue!). Sadly the season is very short.

    Deb: Camping videos! That's my kind camping! No bugs, pollen, dirt, etc. :)

    Cathy AJ