By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
My March Madness horror story: (And, surprise, it has nothing to do with Arizona in the first round).
It was the night of the 1987 NCAA Championship game between Indiana and Syracuse. I was in the seventh grade.
I was going to play golf with my friend in the late afternoon, and instead of rushing through 18 holes to get home in time to watch the second half on television, we decided my father would tape the whole game, and we would watch it in its entirety later that night.
My friend was a long-time Orangeman fan. I had bet on the Hoosiers. We finished golf by what was probably late in the first half, and then rode home with the radio off so we would not hear a score. When we got back to my house, we ran into my room and sat there playing a board game until the game ended.
My dad finally knocked on the door and said the game was finished and we could watch the tape. My friend and I, now both breathless with excitement, quickly found seats and settled in for what we hoped would be another classic title game.
My dad, inexplicitly only rewound the the tape about five seconds.
When he turned on the television, the tape played the final five seconds of CBS' broadcast Ä of a bunch of Hoosiers dog-piling on each other at halfcourt.
I was stunned. My dad was stunned.
I'll never forget my dad's expression. His face showed an awful, painful wince because he knew how much watching that game meant to me. He knew what had just happened. He had seen the game. He knew all the drama was gone, that Keith Smart's seismic 16-foot baseline jumper with a few ticks on the clock left to give Indiana the title was now anti-climatic.
How I yelled at my dad. I lost it, ran into the bathroom, slammed the door, sat down on the toilet and cried.
I had been deprived of the college basketball season's proper closure. I felt cheated. I would have to wait another year.
A whole year.
My dad drove my friend home and then came to talk to me. I had since moved from the toilet to sulk in my room.
He said he was sorry, that it was an accident.
I knew it was, but I was inconsolable. Before my father left me, he said I should watch the game anyway, because it was a good one.
I did, and it was.
That was eight years ago, and I hope I've chilled out a little since then. But one thing I know has not changed Ä the last three weekends in March are still, for any sports fan, the hands-down, without a doubt, the best three weekends of the year.
The tournament evokes passions from everybody Ä players, coaches, fans, even my mom. She knows nothing about basketball, but my dad and I found her screaming Ä screaming Ä at the television when the freshmen Fab Five of Michigan upset her alma mater, top-seeded Ohio State, in the regional finals to move onto the Final Four in 1992.
Jeez, some people can take this madness thing a little too far.
But hey, it's not our fault. Blame the players, they are the ones who reduce our brackets to shreds (Loyola-Marymount in 1990), upset our favorite teams (Santa Clara, anyone?), and cause us to cheer out loud (Pepperdine's elfin Damon Lopez staring down Michigan center Juwan Howard last year).
It seems that anything can and does happen during those 63 games. But one thing is always constant about the tournament, and that is the Madness can't come soon enough.
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