The Madness of March

Melissa Stagnaro

Once more the basketball-tinged madness of March has trickled over into April. But, thankfully, “March Madness” will officially be over after Butler squares off against Duke tonight in the NCAA finals. I, for one, can’t wait for it to be over.

The game is set to start at 9 p.m., and before I wake up in the morning, the dust will have settled on the college basketball tournament to end all college basketball tournaments. I honestly don’t care who is crowned the victor. I’m just happy that the end is in sight.

Sure, I’ll have to deal with the seemingly endless recaps, commentary and highlights for a few days. But that is a small price to pay for the end to the frenetic energy and bizarre behavior exhibited by college basketball fans the world over.

Behavior that includes, but is not limited to staying up until all hours of the night glued to the television, jumping up and down screaming in either celebration or protest, depending on the particular play, call or outcome. The canceling of all other plans to stay glued to that damned set. The pouring over the sports page on a daily basis, studying the details of each and every game. Then there is the incessant chatter about this team or that. The almost encyclopedic knowledge of each match-up played, which is wont to pop out of nowhere even when a completely unrelated topic is being discussed.

Heaven forbid you actually asked who their pick to win is, you’ll be “treated” to an hour long diatribe, featuring a comprehensive analysis of how each team has performed against their potential opponents over the last decade or so. Plus a synopsis of each player’s individual history and their idiosyncrasies.

I know you think I’m making veiled references to a co-worker or other male acquaintance. Or perhaps my dad or one of my brothers. If only that were the case. No, the most fanatical of all college basketball fans that I know is none other than my mother.

Those who know her may find this slightly hard to believe, but I assure you this is no jest. My mom is a huge sports fan, and come March, her sport of choice is college basketball. She obsesses over it, can’t get enough of it and thinks of practically nothing else for the duration of the annual NCAA tournament.

My father seems to find this endearing, and delights in telling people about how he took her out to dinner one night and she couldn’t wait to get home to watch whatever game was on. For me, however, it can get embarrassing. Like when I have to make excuses for my mother’s absence at planned events during this time of year. Or if a guest happens to time their visit during game time and arrives to find my mother “watching” a game. (Which in her case is a very participative sport, involving an almost continuous commentary and plenty of hopping up and down.)

My mom doesn’t have a particular team she follows, in fact, she would watch every game if she could. She does have a thing for the underdog, thought. This year, for example, she was thrilled by how far Cornell made it in the tournament. I can’t tell you how many times she’s related to me that they are the first Ivy League school to make it to the Sweet 16.

After Big Red’s defeat at the hands of Kentucky, she started rooting louder for West Virginia, who she said had a lot of heart. Never having been a fan of Duke, she was disappointed when the Mountaineers lost to the Blue Devils this weekend. (Grudgingly, she admitted that Duke’s performance was far superior in the match-up, and even complimented them on their 3-point shooting.)

For my mom, the closer a game the better. So she really enjoyed the other Final Four match-up, between Butler and Michigan State. She tried to give me a blow by blow of the action, but I’m afraid all I can recall from the conversation is that Butler was victorious by a narrow margin. And she’d like to see Bulldogs go all the way.

I love my mom, I do. Which is why I can’t wait for the finals to be played. Sniff, I want my mommy back.

Not that it will be the end of my mother’s antics, of course. No, far from it.

As you know, baseball season is just getting under way.

Follow me on Twitter … @evesunmelissa.