As the old Irish blessing intones, “May the wind be always at your back and don’t fake the funk on a nasty dunk.”
Welcome to Day 1 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. March Madness. The Big Dance. The Ol’ How’s Your Father. (Wait…)
AND: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Today is the high holy day of hugging strangers. A rare opportunity to pretend you’re Irish AND pretend that you’ve ever heard of San Diego State. So special. Like glimpsing a unicorn. A unicorn that says “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
You know, you can’t even go downtown after dark anymore without being harassed by unicorns.
The two celebrations have so much in common, it’s hard to believe that they don’t permanently schedule the tourney kick-off on March 17:
- Both holidays inspire casinos and bars to open at obscenely early hours, turning the lights down low so you can pretend you’re not shouting, “OHMYGOD, mozzarella sticks sound soooooooo good!” at 10:30 in the morning.
- Both events mean that co-worker–most likely someone with an extensive collection of holiday novelty socks–will harass you for failing to join in the mandated fun of wearing green or filling out an NCAA bracket.
- One celebration’s excessive focus on alcohol is distasteful to the Mormon church. The other celebration will soon be equally distasteful to them, seeing as Brigham Young U enters the tournament having just benched the best player in the country (Brandon Davies) for having consensual premarital sex. It’s little wonder that the school motto is Angustus – censeo don’t lucror tournaments, Latin for “tight-asses don’t win tourneys.”
When commissioning the signage for the 2010 Men’s Championship Game, the NCAA’s only instructions were: “Choose an ominous message that fills everyone with dread. And we like orange.”
I, for one, cannot resist the siren song of a St. Patty’s Day/March Madness hybrid. I am chock full of Irish blood and my beloved West Virginia Mountaineers are a 4th seed. Plus I live in Indianapolis and when it comes to basketball, they suffer no fools. The minute I moved to Indiana, they tied me to chair, paper-clipped my eyes open and made me watch Hoosiers for 72 straight hours. Today I will be just one in a sea of Hoosiers who take off work to watch the games. If I fail to show up, I will be deported to Michigan.
I’m bucking the skeptics and picking these guys to win it all.
If you’ve never given either celebration a fair shake–or a Shamrock Shake, as the case may be–you don’t know what you’re missing. Anywhere you go today, if you play along even a little bit, you will be welcomed by open, sweaty, beer soaked arms. Strangers will sing and applaud and toast right alongside you. It’s like a spending a little time with a creepy drunk uncle at a wedding, with twice the beer tab but half the therapy.
Seriously, though: when local Cinderellas Butler University made the Men’s Finals last year, I went to the game. And while I’m no basketball expert, it was impossible not to get carried away by watching these kids have a spectacular moment. Most of the kids you see in the NCAA Tournament will not go on to the NBA. They’re just kids, pouring their hearts into a game with the whole country cheering them on. And if you’re drunk? Super-moving.
Translating books? No. THIS is how the Irish saved civilization.
So, go forth and celebrate today. Even President Obama–sorta-Irisher and hoops fan that he his–is joining in the fun today, dyeing the White House fountain green and filling out a tourney bracket with ESPN. In case you were wondering, he picks Kansas to win the whole shebang. Wow…he must be drunk already.
(Is saying “FACE!” to the President, even on a blog, a federal offense?)