Enter the Bracket Challenge here. The password is 'billyceluk'. Sean will have prizes, I think.
Dedicated to anyone who ever videotaped the Selection Show so they could fill out their bracket before the newspaper came the next day.
We had one of those quaint wooden-block calendars on the wall. Living in the country, how could you not? There were also vintage tins from the National Biscuit Company, boughs of eucalyptus everywhere, and placards of annoyingly vague instructions to 'live, laugh and love.' The Grahams lived in a 14-room farmhouse that could only be kindly described as 'conglomerated.' I came of age in a turn-of-the-[last]-century heat sieve rivaled only by George Baily's 'Drafty Old Barn.' Nothing builds character, or maybe contempt, in an 11-year-old like splitting and dragging seasoned maple through sub-zero temps. By the time my mother would rearrange the wooden blocks to read 'March', I'd had enough of winter. I longed for any sign, natural or manufactured, that spring was almost here...I longed, for The Dance.
As a fan of all sports at a young age, March Madness was my Bacchanalia. Something about that perfectly symmetrical bracket lured me in to hypnotic trance that became the bane of my Mother's tutelage. I was home-schooled, and obsessing over this bracket was the little man on my shoulder always tugging me away from more academic pursuits. Before long, however, mother gave in to my obsession and found ways to turn it to her educational advantage. Before I knew it, I was being asked to research odds, records, RPI, regions and rivalries. March Madness was math, geography, history, and home-ec all rolled into one.
As a static piece of paper, the Bracket was distracting...but it became enriching to take reams of construction paper, rulers, glue, and logos and lay them along the wall. That's right, for 10 years the wall in our living room became adorned with a larger, more elaborate, and artistically crafted bracket. I can point to the roots of my interest in graphics design right there. I can point to the roots of my pursuit of broadcasting to hearing Sean McDonough wax about Syracuse during the tourney. In fact, it's entirely possible that I became a fan of the Orangemen BECAUSE of The Dance. From what I recall, the internal conversation was: 'So the team that's always in this, closest to Binghamton, is Syracuse...Alright, I'll root for them.' Fast-forward 10 years and I'm a student, watching ‘Melo & Mac. I came home for the weekend of the conference tournaments. Greeting me was a wall full of brackets made by my 12-year-old sister, and her saucer-sized eyes gazing up to me for approval. Heartstrings: Tugged.
Fast-forward 11 years: I woke up this morning observing a rare shimmer through my window. Sunlight. Sure, it's often sunny in the winter, but there seems to be some heightened element when it shines on This Day. Save for the Blizzard of '93, I can't recall This Day not at least showing some feigning level of gloriosity. Of course, there's a large placebo effect when it comes to This Day. We know that it's not really different than yesterday or tomorrow...but if there's a morning in sports that so affects that giddy little child in us better than this one, please show me. And please, share your memories of Selection Sunday in the comments below. We all have them, and we all revel in them.
Wrapped up in This Day is the melt of snow, the higher Sun, and a blank board filled with endless possibilities for the year. We've forded the depthless slop of the last season, we've earned a respite to bask in what's to come, and we emerge from our hibernation to commune in the optimism of spring on This Day, the Most Glorious of Days.
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- 23 Seconds of Pain: Breaking Down the End of Syracuse vs. NC State
- NC State 66 - Syracuse 63: Only So Much Tyler & Jerami Can Do
- Things With Better Timing Than @SyracuseU
- ACC Tournament Possibly Moving to Brooklyn's Barclays Center in 2017