Some people or a certain four letter network would lead you to believe that the epicenter of college basketball exist somewhere on the East Coast where two teams in the same conference just 8 miles apart play each other several times a year. Those people and that network have been challenged and will continue to be challenged on that notion. This time of year, March or March Madness as its called, it becomes very obvious to people who live around here or who are from here (Kentucky, Indiana) just how wrong these people are. TV ratings prove this out time and time again. Beyond TV ratings there is something else, something that isn't measurable, something that we all know and witness not just in March but actually year round: Basketball, its the fabric of our lives.
It is so very obvious that it is March. Restaurant and bar televisions will be stuck on CBS for the next 3 weeks. Team flags will fly from cars and on the facades of houses. You'll become more aware of the many 'House Divided' license plates on the front of cars. Grocery stores will have advertisements incorporating the event into them. The list goes on.
If that isn't proof enough let me tell you about my morning, the morning on the day when the Big Dance (or the Big Tournament as I explained to my 4 and 6 year old boys-the NIT being the Little Tournament) starts. First my four year old began quizzing me on players and their jersey numbers. Then he reminded me to set the DVR to be sure that as soon as he gets home from preschool he can que up the Notre Dame game (the other team we root for in our household, he set his ND sweatpants out the night before). The whole season has been filled with questions about rankings, or lack thereof, who is staying, who is leaving, the how's and the why's, what is the big deal about leaving Freedom Hall, who on the tickets is the best ever, who on the tickets is the least best of them all, and the all important reassurance that at the end of any tournament the winner gets a big trophy.
The single greatest piece of proof of what this time of year means, what basketball means, came once we got out of the car and headed for the preschool classroom. My son is always the first one there. Something he relishes because it means he gets first pick of what toy or 'center' to start his day off with. Sometimes it's cars, sometimes it's blocks, sometimes it's a game on a computer or maybe some coloring. Coloring today won out. The reason? The teacher offered up your choice of coloring a Cardinal logo or a Wildcat logo. A logo that takes up an entire 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper. We are talking pure coloring bliss here! The Cardinal logo clinched the deal. What a start to the weekend for him. I can't wait to get home and hang it on the fridge right along side the three family brackets we all filled out.
It's March. A reminder that basketball, if not the fabric of our lives, is certainly a very large patch on the quilt.