For the last three weeks, much of my free time has gone to following the NCAA Tournament. March Madness is a yearly obsession that has been more intense this year with the success of the Michigan Wolverines. Tonight, they play in the final four and it got me thinking about the reasons I love sports.
Last Friday night I stood in the middle of our living room while Jill nervously shifted to different places on the couch. Nothing was wrong, we were watching Michigan basketball. At one point during the game, Jill sat in the same spot for an hour. She did not move, she endured every time out, every extended commercial break. I am certain she can now speak a few of them from memory.
The game was the reason I love and hate sports all at the same time. Michigan trailed the entire game. I was in a bad mood; it was sad to see this team end its season. All anticipation had turned into a near blow out. My brother’s texts were making me so angry I left my phone in another room. Then everything changed.
Slowly, the Wolverines pulled their way back into the game. If I am honest, I did not get my hopes up. Jill and I high-fived as Burke, the teams best player and point guard, started to make shots, but it seemed like too little too late.
As final seconds passed, Trey Burke took the ball up the court. A double screen gave him enough room to shoot a thirty foot shot. Somehow it went in.
I sprinted to the back of my house screaming. Jill celebrated from her now lucky seat. I texted my family in caps lock. It was a moment of pure joy. It is one of those rare sports moments.
I love the competition, strategy, and entertainment of sports. It is fun talk about the ins and out of a game, to watch players and coaches work to adjust and make plays. But I love sports because it is more than just a game to me; it has always been.
Sports has always been about the connection with my family and friends. I love the immediate post games calls. I love the way sports create fast friends as you celebrate.
Tonight I will be watching my beloved Michigan Wolverines play in the Final Four. Some friends are gathering to watch. Jill and I are wearing our lucky shirts and hopefully Jill can figure out the right seat. I will be texting my brothers as we watch. I hope Michigan wins. I really hope they do, but these games are more than wins and losses. I love sports because of the connection. The community. The passion. The joy.