Archive for Thursday, March 23, 2006

The fly route

March 23, 2006

It's Thursday morning and you just got last weeks paper.

I'm still sitting in my bed -- all hail the glory of laptop computers and my neighbor's wireless Internet.

The NCAA tournament starts in one hour. Yeah, I slept until 10 a.m. and I'm not sorry. If all goes well, I won't truly get out of bed and join the real world for several more hours, and I still won't be sorry.

See, one of my favorite things in the world is when I can sleep in -- no, I'm not skipping work, thanks for asking though -- roll over, scrape the sleep out of my eyes, thrash around for the remote control and immediately pop on sports.

I came close today, but I didn't sleep long enough. There are no sports on now. That's fine. I'll just fill out a few more brackets.

The NCAA tournament is undoubtedly one of the most popular sporting events in the country. Everyone loves it, even girls who don't know anything about the teams involved. It's the Olympics of popular American sports, i.e. it's great sports action at nearly all hours of the day supplemented by story lines and player profiles that viewers of both genders can get their brains around.

America loves the NCAA tournament and America's sports media figures like to tell you that they love the NCAA. I've heard five sportscasters in the last week explain that they value these weeks above the Olympics, the Super Bowl and the World Series.

Me, I love the tournament because there's always something going on. Sure, I'll go to work today and I know I'll miss some games. Probably some good games. But I'll leave in the evening and it'll still be on, I'll crash on the couch tonight and it'll still be on, and when I wake up tomorrow -- yeah, I sometimes sleep in on Fridays, too -- it'll be on all over again.

See, with so much going on, everyone can see something and there's a descent chance that not everyone else saw it. Yeah, we'll all watch the two Final Four games and everyone will see the same national championship. We'll all see the highlights and if any nobody sinks a half court 3-pointer to kill some unsuspecting high seed, we'll all see it 1,000 times.

But we won't all see it as it happens. There were 32 games in the first round played over two days. Seeing as we all have lives -- yeah, I'm still sitting in my bed -- we can't watch every game. So we'll all see different games, and we'll all see different incredible moments live.

When America sits down to watch the Super Bowl, we all see the exact same thing -- though, I swear I blinked when Justin tore Janet's top off. There's nothing unique about watching the Super Bowl.

When you see a great finish or watch a great game in the tournament, however, there's a fairly descent chance not everyone else saw the same thing.

I heard once that one of the reasons the movie "Shawshank Redemption" became popular had nothing to do with its box office success. Rather, so few people saw it in the theater, when people saw it in the video store they hadn't heard much about it. When they rented it and realized it was awesome, they felt they'd discovered a hidden treasure.

The early rounds of the NCAA tournament are the same way. I'm not going to lie here all day -- still lying, by the way -- but it's halftime of the first handful of games and at least two of them are looking to be great and surprising.

Sure others are watching, but these games, no matter if they actually pan out to be upsets or if the higher seed finds a way to dominate, are part of my tournament experience.

We all watch them. We all love it. Some will remember it for the famous shot they saw live. Others will never forget the triple-overtime game. Some will never forget that their tournament bracket survived 24 hours without a mistake while others will remember that they, and they alone, picked the insane upset that came true.

That's what I love about the NCAA. In the end, it's so big and so awesome that we all walk away with our own personal NCAA tournament experience and we all find our own hidden gem.

Now it's almost 1 p.m., I'm starving and my bracket is looking uglier by the second, so I'm afraid I have to do it.

I'm going to get up.

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