No worries. This is not a blog about Christmas or roasting marshmallows or singing of good cheer. No, this is about the most wonderful time of year for someone like me who loves basketball and golf.
I had the privilege of playing both sports in college, to the surprise of many who see my stature, and I experienced the added privilege of qualifying and competing at the NAIA national tournament in both. It was very strange and exciting to have little kids walk up to you with their program opened to your team’s page asking for your autograph. My autograph? Up to that point, I didn’t even have an autograph. I mean, how many 19-year-olds do?
I remember feeling so nervous I thought I was going to puke and so excited I couldn’t sleep. It was a great experience!
And that brings us to today: the start of Championship Week. Each of the major conferences in the NCAA hold their end of the season tournaments with the winner receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, also affectionately known as March Madness. Every conference tournament champion will be crowned by Sunday afternoon.
Then, immediately following the final conference tournament, CBS will air its highly anticipated Selection Sunday in which they reveal the brackets for the tournament. It’s always exciting to see college athletes jumping up and down and hugging each other when their name shows up in one of the brackets.
Then comes the tournament. What can you say about March Madness that hasn’t already been said? David and Goliath. Cinderella stories. #15 seeds knocking off #2 seeds. It is the ultimate drama in college athletics, and it is a basketball junkie’s drug that lasts for three consecutive weekends culminating in the Final Four and a champion crowned.
For most people, the drama and excitement ends there, but for me, it starts all over again two days later when The Masters gets underway down in Augusta, Georgia. This is a golfer’s Mecca, often cited by duffers hackers alike as the most beautiful place on earth, and I would have to agree with their assessment. It is absolutely amazing with its blooming azaleas and tall Georgia pines framing the landscape of the greatest golf tournament ever created.
One of my favorite features of The Masters tournament is its inclusion of amateurs in the field. Each year, 7-8 amateur champions have the privilege of spending the week as a guest in the Crow’s Nest, located above the club house, and they compete against the best players in the world. I can only imagine how exhilarating that experience must be, especially for those who make the cut and play the weekend. Moving Day – Saturday, to most people – and the Back Nine on Sunday makes for an incredible weekend of golf that culminates in the dawning of a Green Jacket by the newly crowned champion.
So for most people, today is just Wednesday. For me, it’s the start of the most wonderful time of the year.