Going mad…

Two memories from the depths of the pandemic… how deadly quiet it got here in East Lawrence, and the absence of sports events on TV. We’d sit on our 4th-floor balcony and talk about how we missed all the walkers, joggers, baby-strollers, and dog-exercisers. Also street traffic, which slowed to nonexistent at times. Sports returned before the outdoor rumble did, and we were like starving refugees, indiscriminately watching every offering. I know some of my theater friends, reading friends, blogging friends might wonder if I actually like watching televised sports or if it’s a way to stay cuddly with Kimmers. Nope, I really mean it, I genuinely get into basketball, tennis, golf, baseball, football. They lose me at auto racing, bowling, soccer, and hockey, but all of it is real people doing real things, so that’s a plus, even if some of them are getting paid outrageous piles of cash for royally entertaining the masses.

DISCLAIMER: The KIMN8R taught me to belch properly, and I’ve learned some choice new language under his instruction, so he has a real buddy to watch ball with… bonus, right?

My earliest memory of “sports” as a thing comes from playing on the living room carpet at my grandparents’ house while Grandpa watched Major League baseball on their little black & white TV. The distinctive cadence of the announcer’s voice, the rumble and roll of the intriguing Hammond B3 accompanying the action, the aroma of Grandpa’s pipe and the crackle of the daily paper as he read it cover to cover before working the crossword puzzle in ink, comforting smells from Grandma’s kitchen… it’s all with me forever. I had the world in those moments… security, love, family, and a sense that there was terrific stuff out there to find out about. So the world of sports, however intense it may be at times, is comfort food to me.

This week the phenomenon that is March Madness gets underway and we’re happy campers. The First Four started it off Tuesday and Wednesday, and tonight at 9pm we’ll see Kansas against Texas Southern if we can stay awake for it. Joke. We’ll be awake.

In a time when joy has been harder to come by, college basketball has helped with the empty feeling. We cheer the Jayhawks every year and talk about them like we knew them, and we follow kids on other teams as we watch them play week by week. When they hit the NBA, we remember them with a silly sense of pride, like we had some part in it. Nothing’s pure, not much is straight-up what it really is, but the world of college ball FEELS different from pro sports, politics, and war… therefore, it’s mostly encouraging and refreshing. Bring on the big ol’ challenges, NCAA… it’s time to DANCE!

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