March Madness too mad for me, but B-ball is still key

BY RANDALL RIGSBEE, News + Record Staff
Posted 2/21/20

March Madness?

It’ll soon be here. But not for me. Not this year. Not, in fact, in a long time.

I think I’ve grown immune.

Not that I was ever especially mad about March Madness, though …

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March Madness too mad for me, but B-ball is still key

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Posted

March Madness?

It’ll soon be here. But not for me. Not this year. Not, in fact, in a long time.

I think I’ve grown immune.

Not that I was ever especially mad about March Madness, though I’ve had my moments.

Going back a few years, I used to fill out the brackets and sometimes when luck, more than my knowledge of the teams, was on my side, I did all right.

But I’m a fair-weather fan, and unless one of the local triumvirate (I’ll pull for any Triangle-area team; I’m not picky that way) makes it to the Final Four, as a spectator the sport, the season, and all the madness that ensues, is mostly lost on me.

As for the sport itself, however, I hold basketball in high regard.

I can’t say likewise of most sports.

I never, for instance, caught the football bug, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. I’ve pared my interest in football down to watching one game per year — the Big Game, as it’s also known — and I even skipped that this year, having no interest in the game itself, a halftime show that either by accident or by design is guaranteed to upset some sizable segment of spectators, or the celebrated commercials. Of that latter attraction, one aside: Isn’t it amazing — mind-blowing, even — that we abhor commercials 364 days out of the year, fast-forwarding though them when we can as if they contained a contagion releasable on contact, yet covet commercials on that one day? It’s all a bloated super bore. But I digress.

I used to care a bit about baseball, but my interest in it started waning about the time steroids took root in centerfield and players’ forearms began practically popping, a la Popeye’s.

Though I still love the way James Earl Jones sublimely waxes poetic about the American pastime in “Field of Dreams,” to actually sit in front of a television and watch a Big League baseball game would require more patience than I could conjure.

And I haven’t followed hockey — a sport I once, at a much younger age, desperately wanted to play, since Bobby Orr’s 12 seasons in the NHL.

But basketball, in spite of my disinterest in it as a spectator sport, is now and forever for me the greatest sport.

Of the three big sports that still, I think, capture the greatest attention in the United States, basketball is the best, the fastest paced, the simplest to follow, and — probably the primary reason I rank it tops — the most accessible to all.

As a kid, I played football — neighborhood bragging rights were on the line — and I tossed baseballs with my brother. But basketball was better, requiring only a ball, a backboard and a hoop (the net being optional and, very often, absent).

No team — or even another person, though nothing beats a game of one-on-one — was required. When my buddies were too busy, I passed hours shooting hoops alone, enjoying the experience none the less. No big field needed. And with a school nearby with its outdoor courts always available, we didn’t even need to own the backboard and hoop.

It’s easy to scratch the basketball itch, but try organizing an impromptu after-dinner game of football or baseball.

Coinciding with March Madness is the welcome warming of the weather. And for many, that means playing basketball again.

For me, one of the welcome touchstones of spring in my neighborhood is the thumping sound of dribbling basketballs.

So as indifferent as I’ve been to March Madness in recent seasons, and to sports in general, I’m on board for the return of what I consider true basketball season: spring and summer, the time of year all those backyard and driveway hoops — largely dormant during the winter season — are called back into action.

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