There is something magical about the whole March Madness thing. The raw excitement of college basketball and the pursuit to be the best. In every drip of sweat that hits those hardwoods, I can envision the years of hard work, the dreams of each player, their families, their communities, and the amazing determination that it takes to get there. The celebrations of the victories, the lessons learned in the defeats. The hunger that each one of them has in them and what they’ve had to sacrifice along the way to get there. How many players with the same athletic ability who weren’t as hungry, as determined, and willing to sacrifice as much, did they pass to get there? Why is March Madness so bewildering? For me, it’s the small teams from universities that I have never heard of, outplaying big power basketball powerhouses. It’s the traditions, the fortitude, and the respect that each player, coach, and fan has for the sport itself. It’s the building of the excitement. It’s so darned captivating and inspiring!
The players haven’t yet experienced the spoils of what the NBA provides. None of the riches, the power, or the image. College basketball is all about the sport. It’s about competition. Yes, there are some big attitudes that come in swinging, but there is the ever humbling effect of an undeserved injury, an ‘easy win’ that was lost at the buzzer, a dream lost, that keeps March Madness such a wonderment.
Then, as if it wasn’t exciting enough…after the winner is finally decided comes the song. The song of all songs. Flawless in it’s endeavor to capture every human emotion painstakingly drawn out of every viewer as we embraced these 68 teams, whittled down to 32, then 16, then 8, then 4, then 2, then 1. We felt their hopes and dreams, cried for them in their defeats, cried with them in their victories. Then Luther chimes in with…’Feel the beat of your heart, feel the wind in your face, it’s more than a contest, it’s more than a race…one shining moment, you reached deep inside, one shining moment, you knew you were alive…’
Every year, it’s a sobfest as I sit on the edge of the sofa, glued to the tv waiting to see the video and hear the song. Pure magic. All of the years of watching, remembering the moments we’ve borne witness to in years past…the victorious moments … Grant Hill to Christian Laettner at the buzzer to win over Kentucky in 1992…or the unbelievable ones … Chris Webber’s timeout incident in 1993.
PS: I am choosing to live in denial of the fact that there is anything that taints the beauty of March Madness. If there is anything that isn’t pure and sportsmanlike about it, I can’t hear it 😉
PPS: Thank you CBS for bringing back the Luther Vandross version of ‘One Shining Moment’!!