March may inevitably be the most exhilarating month of the year.
Temperatures increase. Grass gets greener. Days grow longer.
And while the bounce of a basketball is heard through television sets across the country in celebration of March Madness, something is just a bit different about attending live games and spending time behind the scenes (and not having to sit through multiple commercials.)
Basketball came alive at the second and third rounds of the tournament in Columbus, Ohio, as players, coaches, fans, media staff, and event workers prepared for a round of six enticing matchups. Emotions ran high from the court to the stands to the locker room, and having the opportunity to witness it all was incredible.
Passing nervous faces on their way to the press room, there was no way I could even imagine putting myself in the shoes of the talented athletes from NC State, Georgetown, St. Louis, Memphis, Belmont, San Diego State, LIU Brooklyn, and Michigan State. All their hard work and dedication of the past season had led to that Thursday, and four of them were going home after just one game.
Jokes shared and tears shed were both symbols of excitement and passion for the road to New Orleans.
Rick Majerus’ discussion about Twitter was one to remember: “I don’t see the point of Twitter. ‘I went to the beach. The water was wet.’ What is that?”
Joe Pastner taking the blame for Memphis’ loss to St. Louis for the sake of his players was more than admirable.
Brian Conklin’s heartbreaking, tearful press conference after his final career game was undoubtedly powerful for all basketball fans alike.
And speaking with a member of NC State’s coaching staff after earning a spot in the Sweet Sixteen was unforgettable: “We’re so excited. This hasn’t happened for us in a long time.”
You see it all on TV, and then you see it in person.
It opens up your eyes and redefines what college basketball means to you. It doesn’t mean creating a successful bracket or winning a hefty sum of money for lucky picks, and it has nothing to do with sitting at your computer waiting for the exact moment tickets go on sale for the three games in New Orleans.
It is about putting yourself in the game and rooting for not only your favorite team but the team putting forth the most effort. It is about sympathizing with those who lose after fighting a tough battle and staying proud of the National Champion for their skill and perseverance. For the fans, each individual tournament may lost only a few short weeks, but March Madness in itself can last a lifetime.
Photo courtesy of CBS and the NCAA.