March Madness is back. The first weekend of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament always takes me back to the early ’80s, when I first became a fan of college basketball. In my opinion, there are no greater four days in a row in all of sports.
When we were in our teens and twenties, my friends and I would gather at each other’s houses to watch hoop games together, or go out to one of the bars in my hometown to watch with a bigger crowd. The upsets are the best, and I remember fondly the friends I was with when we watched North Carolina State win it all in 1983 and Villanova do the same in 1985. I was on the Syracuse University campus with friends the night they lost in the final to Indiana in 1987. Seeing the post-game riot on the streets near campus after that last second loss was frightening and unforgettable.
This year’s tournament started two days ago but because of other commitments, tonight will be my first chance to sit down and watch a few games. I feel like I am getting old, because rather than go out and find a big group of friends to watch the tourney with, I am most content now to be at home watching in the comfort of my own living room.
Before I get settled in for a night of good basketball, I have a few evening routines to go through first. One of my favorites is taking our dog out for the last walk of the night. I get some exercise, and it’s good quality time with Ginger. Some nights it’s a pain, but once I get out there, I enjoy our late night walks.
Getting back inside, locking up, changing into old blue jeans and my old gray hoodie will come next. It’s surprising how much I like changing into to my favorite comfortable clothes. Tidying up the messes and piles in the kitchen, maybe putting some laundry away – that’s next. Then just finding my spot on the floor in front of the couch, and finding a good game to tune into. The routines of middle age…they make it easier to wake up the next morning than it was after that Syracuse loss in 1987.