bad sports, good sports

Bad sports, good sports: March Madness is in full swing again

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Five years and one week ago, I wrote my first column for When Falls the Coliseum. I was going to make note of this in last week’s post, but it seemed more appropriate to call it out this week, as I knew it was likely that I would be writing about the same thing I wrote about back on March 16, 2009, and that is March Madness. The NCAA Basketball Tournament started this week, and the opening weekend provided lots of Good Sports moments.

It has been a number of years now since I last went out to Las Vegas for the opening weekend. A friend here in PA still hosts a load of people in his house for the four days of hoops, watching all of the games simultaneously and betting with each other and online to simulate our old Vegas experience. The birth of my son and various other things in my life have led to my spending little time over there these days, though, and I never got there at all this year. Still, I watch what I can at home and follow it all online whenever possible. I play in a couple of pools, which keeps me involved as well. There is never a lack of story lines, which makes this such a great event.

The big upsets are always fun to discuss, and there were several of these. Some of the first round’s biggest upsets were three of the 12 seeds winning (Harvard beating Cincinnati in the East, North Dakota State beating Oklahoma in the West, and Stephen F. Austin defeating VCU in the South). 11th-seeded Dayton also beat 6th-seeded Ohio State in the South. The biggest one of all was Mercer, a 14 seed in the Midwest, beating storied Duke, a 3 seed. The second round had its share of crazy results as well, the biggest of which was Dayton dispatching Syracuse to move on to the Sweet Sixteen. Wichita State, the Midwest Region’s top seed, went down to Kentucky in the second round, ending their perfect season. Two 2nd-seeded teams also failed to survive their second games, with Villanova losing to Connecticut and Kansas losing to Stanford.

My favorite story of the tournament thus far involves Mike Krzyzewski, the legendary coach of the Duke Blue Devils. Minutes after his team fell to unheralded Mercer, Coach K showed up in the doorway of the Mercer locker room to congratulate the winners on their huge victory and to tell them how much he admired them for how they play the game. This went well beyond the end-of-game handshake that coaches perform regularly. He certainly didn’t have to go out of his way to do what he did. There are plenty of people out there who hate Duke, reviling them for their success and for their clean program. I really can’t imagine anyone disparaging Krzyzewski, though, at least not in any kind of serious way. He is a great person and an amazing basketball coach.

I greatly dislike the NCAA and how it does just about everything. It does run a great basketball tournament, though. There is something in it for everyone, whether or not he or she is a fan of college basketball.

Bad sports:

1) Here’s something you never want to see. Wait. Check that. Here is something you never want to happen to you. You may well want to see it. Brad Myers, an umpire, took a line drive right in the, um, naughty bits during a spring training game between Cincinnati and Cleveland last Monday. Ouch.

2) Isaac Griffith, wide receiver for Indiana University’s football team, nearly drowned while swimming in the Gulf of Mexico near Sarasota, Florida. He was saved by a friend who was with him.

3) Fran McCaffery, the head basketball coach for the Iowa Hawkeyes, had to leave his team and fly back to Iowa City last Tuesday as they prepared for their NCAA Tournament game against Tennessee. His son had to have surgery to remove a cancerous tumor Wednesday morning. The coach made it back for the game on Wednesday night.

4) Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman was hit in the face with a drive off the bat of Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday. He received several fractures to his nose and near his eye.

5) Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White went to the University of Alabama-Birmingham, but I guess he is a big fan of Duke. One of his Twitter followers predicted that the Blue Devils would lose to Mercer in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday. White replied with

“if mercer beat duke I will give you season tickets 50 yard line first row.”

After that very thing occurred, White backed off, saying he would give the guy tickets to the Falcons-Chicago Bears game next season, but that the season ticket thing was not happening. Lame.

6) Will McKamey, a running back for Navy’s football team, collapsed during a practice on Saturday and had to be hospitalized.

7) Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Williams was stabbed in the thigh by his brother on Sunday, continuing the troubles in which he has been finding himself lately, including several arrests.

Bad sports, good sports appears early each week

Alan Spoll is a software quality assurance director from the suburbs of Philadelphia where he lives with his wonderful wife and children. He has spent his entire life as a passionate fan of the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, Flyers, and Penn State. Recent Phillies success aside, you will understand his natural negativity. Follow me on Twitter - @DocAlan02
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One Response to “Bad sports, good sports: March Madness is in full swing again”

  1. Alan, good post. Thanks for sharing.

    During my tenure at a small-town weekly newspaper, I worked for a publisher who was also the paper’s sports reporter. He used to tell me that no matter what the stats and the experts might have to say in advance of a game, it was a good idea to go ahead and play the game anyway … just in case. I think the early rounds of the NCAA basketball tournament were a wonderful expression/affirmation of that saying.

    I might still have some excitement for the tournament … if my beloved University of New Mexico Lobos hadn’t been knocked out of the first round!

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