Bring on The Madness

I’ve always been a basketball fan. While I may not have the height to compete at a high rank, I enjoy everything from pick-up to play-off games, with ranging levels of personal participation. So when March rolls around, I’m in hoops heaven. With the NCAA Tournament starting on Thursday, I needed to stretch my basketball-watching muscles in preparation for the big dance. I decided on an old favorite—The Houston Rockets.

With a final score of a whopping 125-123 against the Denver Nuggets, this game sounds like a thrilling fight from start to finish. Oh contraire. Although the fans were on their feet, pacing, ringing their hands and going hoarse, the Rockets looked like it was the first quarter the whole game. The bench was calmly composed, with players leaning back in full warm-up gear as the clock ticked down the closing minutes.

Maybe I’m expecting too much. After all, these are professional athletes. This was just another day at the office for the Rockets, not an exciting diversion from lectures and exams. But the NFL isn’t devoid of emotion. Those players are paid handsomely and have a lot of pressure riding on each performance as well. And yet they don’t bore me. They jump up and down, and high five and chest bump after a big play like a couple of college kids. The Rockets celebrated, to be sure, but it was tempered and didn’t start until the final buzzer sounded. Despite the exciting write-up, there was no intensity, except that manufactured by the announcers and fans. The players looked cool as cucumbers, really talented, rich cucumbers.

College games with half as many points have twice the heart of the NBA and none of their salaries. March Madness can’t begin soon enough.