FRIENDS AND FAVORITES
Have Yourself an Ambivalent Little Christmas
The Golden Age of Spam
Will the Real Renaissance Please Stand Up?
My Life of Crime
My Life of Crime, Pt. 2: The War of the Dandelions
Black (and Blue) Friday
How Not to Celebrate a Holiday
Traffic Report Fall Down
and Go Boom
O, Holy Weekend
You Mean My Vote Actually Means Something?
Lessons for Hurricane Preparedness as Taught By Example in Raleigh, North Carolina
You Mean My Vote Actually Means Something?, Pt. 2: Are They Gone Yet?
The Last Reality Show
It Builds Character
Sink the Flu
WTF (in C Major)
Kneel before Za
I Got Your Breaking News Right Here, Pal
Christmas in July...or April...or maybe even December
Why I Hate "The Little Drummer Boy"
O, Holy Weekend|
As I write this, I am in the midst of the most holy time of year for most people living around me. No, I don't mean Easter. I'm talking about basketball. Basketball is not a sport in North Carolina. It is a religion. It has all the trappings of a religion: megachurches (Cameron Indoor Stadium, the Dean Dome, etc.), prophets (either Roy Williams or Mike Krzyszoweverthefuckyouspellhisname, depending on your allegiance), false prophets (either Mike Krzyszoweverthefuckyouspellhisname or Roy Williams, depending on your allegiance), and even a martyr (Jim Valvano, who may have only graduated three players in ten years and may have skirted eligibility rules, but the fact that he later died of cancer means it was completely unfair that he was forced to resign as head coach over these trifling details). And, of course, it has its holy festival, better known as the ACC Basketball Tournament, which I understand is happening this weekend.
To understand how ridiculous people get about this, let me relate to you the story of the first tournament that happened after I came down here. I was in school at the time, and I'd guess roughly two thirds of the class was actually in class. The rest were watching the tournament. If they had actually had tickets to go to the game (the tournament started on Friday...I think it starts on Thursday now because of the extra teams), I could almost, but not quite, understand it. But no: these kids were at home watching the games on television. They actually had notes from their parents explaining that they were at home watching the games on television. Better still, this seemed to be an acceptable excuse to the teachers at the school. And I don't mean they had a resigned attitude of "Well, their parents pulled them out, so what can we do?" I mean the teachers didn't see anything wrong with pulling a kid out of school so he could watch a damn basketball game on television. They thought it was acceptable parenting. And I suppose, in retrospect, that they weren't really sacrificing their child's education in any way: most of the teachers brought televisions to school that day so we could watch the games in class. Those that didn't made arrangements to take their classes to the media center (remember when those places were called libraries because they had books?) and watch the games there.
They may as well have cancelled school. I would have learned just as much staying home that day (probably more), and I could have at least watched Tom and Jerry cartoons instead of some stupid basketball game I didn't care about.
It was at the start of that year, only a few months earlier than the tournament I am describing, that I realized that I hate basketball. This is because it was at the start of the year that I first tried to play it. As a kid in Maryland, I didn't play basketball. There were the standard playground games (dodgeball, kickball, four square, etc.), and as far as organized sports go I had played soccer, softball, and (of course) hockey. But all I really knew about basketball was that the Harlem Globetrotters played it, and it seemed to involve putting the ball in the net. So when I got to North Carolina and found everyone playing basketball and no one playing soccer or kickball, I was a little surprised. Since I was trying to fit in, I decided I'd play basketball, too.
Of course, all I knew about rules in sports I had learned playing hockey and soccer, and keep in mind that I had learned about hockey in the early 1970s. I didn't realize that basketball was a pansy-ass sport where body checks are considered fouls. I lost track of the number of fouls that the others called on me. After this happened probably half a dozen times or more, they threw me out of the game. That's right: I actually fouled out of a game on the school playground. And I would like to state for the record that I still they think they were good, clean body checks. Not once did I use a hockey stick to hit anyone.
Even after growing up and entering the working world, I've always been resigned to the fact that when the ACC tournament rolled around, I'd get to watch the same silliness: Once again there would be people bringing TVs into work to watch the game. Once again it would be hard to have a discussion about much of anything else because so many people were talking about the games. They would try to get me to take part in the conversations. And explaining that I wasn't interested rarely worked. Around most people in this area, mentioning during March that you don't like basketball is like saying you're an atheist during December: they'll look at you incredulously and ask how you could think such a think. Then they'll shake their heads and walk away wondering where your parents went wrong.
But fortunately, this year something amazing has happened: Somehow, I've found myself working someone where no one cares about the tournament. Okay, that's because they're all either transplants who aren't as basketball-crazed as the locals or geeks who don't care about sports (or both), but I'll take it. Yesterday, not a single person was commenting on the tournament. Several of the people didn't even realize it was happening — one co-worker commented that she couldn't figure out why the sports bar where she occasionally eats lunch was so crowded. That's the level of awareness and concern my co-workers and I had for the tournament. It was great.
Now if I could just get them to shut up about World of freaking Warcraft, I'd really be set.
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