Today, for my juniors, I blasted the March Madness theme song and did what can only be characterized as a “jig” before handing them what I deemed the best assignment of all time: Filling out their NCAA Tournament Bracket. Oh yes, in my class, there is no “I don’t like basketball” or “I don’t want to fill out a bracket”. There is only forced participation in an activity that has ruled my life (or at least my March and April) since I started dating Matthew.
Matt and I are celebrating our 7th Annual March Madness Beach vacation; Matt literally won’t get dressed from Thursday to Sunday during the first and second rounds of games. There is serious basketball watching — pacing, nail-biting, brackets pasted up on walls…and, as all my friends know, my certified “focusing” techniques. I won’t go into focusing fully during this post; I admit it makes me sound a bit crazy. But let’s just say it has something to do with concentrating energy toward the desired outcome of the game. Look, I’m not running to Vegas anytime soon, but my focusing has patented success.
The funny thing about my passion for March Madness is that I didn’t grow up in a home of sports fans. My mom = so not into sports. And my dad enjoys sports and watches them, but he’s not fanatical about teams the way Matt is about the Giants, 49ers, and Ducks. We loved watching Blazer games as a family, but I don’t think my dad really sat down for a whole baseball game, or carved out time on Sundays to follow football.
However, even if my dad wasn’t passionate about sports…he liked to focus during important games. (Maybe that’s where my focusing abilities come from?) So, even if I didn’t grow up in a home that breathed football, my dad inadvertently sparked a passion for sports watching by simply being…how do I put this?…annoyed with me. You see, one Sunday we were watching football and I was legitimately trying to follow along. I kept asking about the rules, what the penalties meant, strategies for gameplay.
After about five minutes of questions, my dad simply stood up and left. He appeared twenty-seconds later holding our family’s World Book Encyclopedia for the letter ‘F’ already opened to the “Football” entry. He said, “Read it.” And then sat back down to watch his game in peace.
Well, maybe he thought it would just shut me up. But I actually read that whole entry. Frustration gave way to spite — which is a powerful emotion — and I decided to memorize as much as I could from that encyclopedia. All of a sudden I would be piping in with, “Facemask. 15 yards….automatic first down” or “No! That was totally pass interference. Dad, do you think they should adopt the college rules for that penalty?” After keeping my finger poised above the encyclopedia’s nifty little drawings of referees and their hand motions — fully labeled with the appropriate penalty yardage, I could see my father’s face turn from annoyance to bemusement. Somehow he thought I’d lose interest. Instead, I inhaled knowledge from that entry and spewed it back out with the dedication only a precocious little eleven-year-old could muster.
I’m proud to say my enjoyment of professional sports started on that famous day — when the World Book Encyclopedia opened my eyes to the fact that I could read about a sport, understand it, and then have fun watching it. When that first baseball game aired a few months later, I sat eager and ready with the ‘B’ book sitting open on my lap. Then I think my dad knew he created a monster, but it was too late.
It’s really too bad that romantic comedies have created this dichotomy between the bookish girl lacking in sex-appeal and the sports fan girl who oozes sex-appeal. In real life, the “reader” and the “sports fan” can co-exist. Look, I’m passionate about books (can’t you tell??), but you’ll never catch me reading one during a baseball game. Or March Madness basketball. Sorry, I’ll read when the games are done — reading is bad for my focusing.
Ps. I tried to find a picture for this blog post. But when you Google “March Madness Girl” and the best picture is from Hooters, you know you’re on the wrong track. Then I thought about going out to the garage to grab the ‘F’ encyclopedia that I now own (yeah, my parents didn’t want them anymore now that they have this fancy new thing called the “internet”)…but that would require climbing over boxes of baby-clothes. Please enjoy this graphic-free entry.