Tuesday, March 27, 2012


I have a confession to make: I don't follow March Madness.

In the realm of sports, I devote myself to football. I'm watching the development of next season's teams and following their off season training schedule. When there is a lull in that, I'll check in on my Red Sox to see how they're doing. But basketball is never on my radar.

A friend of mine is extremely excited for this time of year, and was filling out her brackets last week. I had to ask who the teams were. My alma mater has been in the tournament a few times, including twice when I attended. I remember this because classes were canceled one of the times during the game time so that people could watch. I think we had it on in the dorm as a backdrop to whatever else we were doing. I remember it seeming unfair because we were playing Alabama, and their players were giants. It looked like pros taking on high schoolers. Since then, if they make it I am always proud but still don't watch.

Basketball is one of those games that I love to play but hate to watch. It's repetitive, and I get angry when people miss free throws. It's called a free throw for a reason. You get an unblocked shot at the basket. While I give some leeway for the college teams to miss them (they're young, they have nerves), when a pro player misses I want to shut off the TV. You were just paid how much money to not get the ball through the hoop? If I were making a gazillion dollars playing ball, I would practice free throws all day every day so I wouldn't miss. It's not like the basket ever moves or changes.

I played basketball when I was a child and adored it. I grew early, and was one of the taller kids on the court in the 4th and 5th grades. And then when I stopped growing in the 6th grade and everyone else kept sprouting up I made up for my height by being a terror on the court guarding. I loved boxing out and setting picks. Alas, my b-ball career ended Freshman year when two girls took me out in the last game of the season. One slid under my legs and the other pushed me over the other way. My right leg did not go in the same direction as my body, and I was carried off the court. I had a severely sprained ankle, partially torn ligaments, and my leg below the knee was swollen and black. My ankle never fully recovered, most likely because softball season started three weeks later and I was determined to play and threw the crutches away. Running sprints up the baseline and crouching in the catcher's position for hours (sometimes with my right leg straight out besides me) put a permanent kink in that ankle. It's still doesn't turn properly. 

In that game our team got a technical shot because of my injury, and I left the court having had my best scoring game ever. I got 32 points in the first half. I probably wouldn't have ever beaten that again, so it was a good way to go out. That summer I found out during a game on my driveway with my neighbor that I had lost my jump shot (my best one!) and my ankle gave out every now and then when I ran up the court. The spring was gone from my step. I still played with my neighbors, but my drive for the game was gone.

But, I will always remember the games I played as a kid. When competition was friendly, even if the fouls were blatant.

Maybe I'll take a look at the standings to see who's winning.

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