This is the most wonderful time of the year for a sports fan.
For the next three weeks, college basketball’s best teams will compete in a 68-team (it’s still weird to say this number) single elimination brawl.
Included in the action will be tomorrow’s NBA stars, Davids beating Goliaths and all-out drama that just cannot be found in any other sporting venue.
Even with college basketball in a downward cycle, the NCAA Tournament is now and will always be the most exciting three-week jolts of adrenaline into the sporting calendar.
Unless if you’re an employer, of course.
Then you have to endure seeing your workers sneakily combing through Facebook to get score updates while being on the clock.
It isn’t cheating if you don’t get caught, I suppose.
I know just as well as any.
For years, I confess that I’ve been one of those people.
I will now detail some of the many ways that I have shirked responsibilities to watch the NCAA Tournament.
If any of our loyal readers are former grade school teachers of mine, I beg that you now place your newspaper down and go about your day.
I wouldn’t want you to be exposed to my tales of mischief that are going to come to light in the proceeding lines of text.
It’d probably place a dark cloud on what has previously been a wonderful relationship.
So with that said, here goes.
The Monday of NCAA Tournament week, I’d always map out a detailed strategy to guide my week.
I was about 12 or 13 years old at the time this scheming first started occurring – I was just beginning junior high school.
I’d go to school the first three days of the week and I’d be on my absolute best behavior.
I’d do the same for the beginning part of the day on Thursday, as well.
But by about 10:15 a.m. or so on Thursday, I’d always seem to come down with some sort of nasty stomach bug that’d require me to call home to get some immediate rest and relaxation.
The bug would cease easily with medicine – a couple teaspoons of first-round games – and I’d be well enough to get back to school the next morning.
But I’d always seem to rush back into action too soon because by the same time Friday morning, I’d be sick again – stomach barking at me to head home and relax. And watch basketball, while there, of course.
Some years the symptoms didn’t seem to bite me quite as heavily as others.
On the years where my health remained in tact, it was usually because I’d have teachers who allowed us to watch the games in class.
What a strange coincidence that is, eh?
As I got to college, my plans became more sophisticated and organized.
Instead of ducking out of class early, I just wouldn’t go to school at all.
If completely playing hooky meant I was at a disadvantage in my classes, I’d organize with my professors to turn work in early to get around the sticky situation.
Education is important, but adult drinks, chicken wings and 12-hours of basketball are better.
Before anyone gets too snooty at the last sentence, please calm down and live a little.
I was a 4.0 student throughout high school and college – I do not encourage any slacker-like behavior from those not able to get out of the hole that they dig for themselves.
So now that my lies have been exposed to an entire three-parish radius, I can say that this year’s field will be one of the most exciting ones to date.
Seriously – does anyone definitively know who will win the NCAA Tournament this year?
I have a handful of good guesses, but I don’t have any horse that I lean on more heavily than any other.
I like Gonzaga, but deep down in my mind, I always consider them to be a little brother program who feeds on inferior competition.
I like Miami, but they own a double-digit loss to Florida Gulf Coast and a home loss to Indiana State.
Indiana is also a solid team capable of making a deep run. But the Hoosiers shoot a ton of 3’s and that usually is a scary proposition when one considers than a single off night can mean doom.
Likewise, Duke is solid. But as a North Carolina fan, I will leave it at that, because I cannot give the Blue Devils any additional credit out of fear that my fake stomach sickness will turn into actual vomiting.
But no matter how it turns out, I know for certain that I am excited to see how it all plays out.
And you should be, too! Fill out our March Madness bracket sometime in the next 24 hours and send it in for a chance to win $100.
I’ve since graduated from childhood and have been blessed with a job that encourages me to keep tabs on the games around the country.
It’s my responsibility to keep tabs on the progress going on throughout the week and to relay the outcomes to you, the reader.
That’s the excuse that I use, at least.
It’s far less shady than faking an illness for two days.