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Sometimes you have to look back to see how far you've come

The following was written by my father when he was a Metro columnist at The Courier-Journal in 1987. The two-year-old whose affinity for the blocked shot is surpassed only by a disturbing fascination with Captain Kangaroo is your humble narrator.

This is the most wonderful time of the year around our house.

Sure we like Christmas, but choosing between it and NCAA basketball tournament time is tough.

Tough for the boys and me, that is. My wife has a totally different idea about all this. As a matter of fact, when she married into a house full of basketball junkies four years ago, no one bothered to prepare her for what would happen to her husband in March.

The oldest son tried.

"See, Virginia, about this time of year Dad just becomes, well, sorta worthless," he warned.

And he's right.

Hey, when else can a 40-year-old former jump-shooter park his ever-widening carcass in front of the television and watch what ESPN - God bless 'em - called 44 hours of uninterrupted college hoops?

Actually, they lied a little.

Between 6:30 and 7:30 on Friday morning, basketball gave way to something called "The Nation's Business Today."

Other than that and that and the brief interlude of Captain Kangaroo that we'll explain later, this  blurry-eyes fool has spent the last two days watching at least part of every first-round NCAA game.

I watched until I got headaches, until the two older boys decided I'd finally come unglued and went to bed shaking their heads at the old man's screaming for Austin Peay.

I watched the Runnin' Rebels blast the standin' around and watchin' Bengals. I watched Hilltoppers and Hoosiers, Tigers and Panthers, Hawkeyes and Miners and the Horned Frogs win.

I saw Bulldogs and Shockers, Fighting Stags and Mountaineers, the Thundering Herd and the Wildcats all lose.

(Truth is I tried to watch the Indiana-Auburn second round game while I wrote this thing.)

And I watched my wife graciously move her tutoring lessons into the room off the kitchen - the one with the five-foot-high goal for the 2-year-old son - away from the noise of the TV.

I watched her smile the little, insincere, you've-obviously-lost-your-senses-and-this-is-getting-a-little-old smile when I'd yell for her to come watch yet another replay.

I'm sure she got tired of hearing:

"Stop the ball!"

"Weak side, weak side! Now shoot it!"

"Geez, try not to hit him in the hands with the ball next time."

"Holy, cow, he must've tripped over the foul line!"

"Big weeeeejection!" (That was the two-year-old's favorite.)

Or "Terrible call! Terrible call!" She must have heard that one a hundred times.

And I'm sure she tired of meals in the family room. The first night when my brother-in-law and sister came by, we had fix 'em yourself sandwiches. Second night was carry-out Chinese, and not a bite was taken at the table.

I didn't want to miss a single dribble. But I did.

Friday morning, after staying up till 1:30 a.m. to catch all of Thursday's games, I rose at 6 a.m. to watch part of the Alabama-North Carolina A&T game. At least I think that was the one.

Then shortly after "The Nation's Business Today" went off, I settled in for Providence's smashing of the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Then the 2-year-old awoke.

He stumbled into the family room, took a long look at the TV and Dad, and fled.

I heard a mournful "Awwwwww, Mommy! Captain Kangaroo!"

Mom sent him back in and he explained, "Dad, it's Captain Kangaroo time!"

"Yeah, son. But see, Providence beat UAB on their home floor..."

"Captain Kangarooooooo!"

"And they didn't carry this game live and..."


OK, OK. So I didn't watch Providence all the way through, just a few peeks during Captain Kangaroo commercials.

Next year maybe he'll realize that Captain Kangaroo is there every day, but NCAA tournament time comes only once every 12 months and lasts just a little while.

Maybe he'll know that this is the most wonderful time of the year.

(Editor's Note: Damnit)