In two day’s time, productivity in the United States will descend to pitiful depths, levels so low they are only reserved for the most sacred of occasions – OJ Simpson murder trials, the Super Bowl and, as is the case now, March Madness. In offices across America, the few who are still gainfully employed will forget their woes and focus on what’s really important; finding out which collegiate institution plays basketball the best.
65 teams qualify for this tournament, the games are knockout and the emotions are raw. So it’s not like watching your average regular season NBA game. Think about it, when you take a bunch of young guys, many who are prematurely reaching the zenith of their athletic careers and some whose hope of a spot on an NBA roster is reliant on their performance, put them in one tournament and give them a final shot at glory, in front of a national audience – it’s going to get emotional. The skill isn’t as high as the NBA, but the drama is.
Tears aren’t uncommon – a 67 percent likelihood if the game you are watching contains four or more seniors. In 2006, the infamous and mustachioed phenom Adam Morrison, who can now be seen (or not seen) warming the Lakers bench, offered perhaps the most dramatic example of the tournaments inherent sensitivity. Playing UCLA in the sweet 16, having scored 24 points, with minutes remaining and almost all hope of winning evaporated, Morrison started crying before the final whistle was blown. Guess he didn’t believe in miracles.
Before the final whistle:
Here he is after the final whistle:
But if the tournament offers an insight into an athlete’s most painful and vulnerable moments, it also has a knack for displaying sport at its most rapturous, joy-filled and surprising. The mixture of school loyalty, youth, along with the desperation of a single-elimination game often combine for drama rarely seen in professional competition. No better example than Christian Laettner’s shot to beat Kentucky in 1992, which in my opinion is one of the single most stunning finishes to any game, anywhere, anytime in the history of sports. By the way, he shot ten-for-ten from the field this game:[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AY-iq58_oz4&feature=related%5D
That, my friends, is why we watch sports.
I’m about to get in touch with my emotions.