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March Madness

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It’s finally here, my favorite month of the year—MARCH! Spring is in the air; we’re brushing off the dust from winter, and not only is it my birthday month (everyone likes their birthday month), but it signifies the crème de la crème of college basketball—the MARCH to the NCAA finals, “Bracket Madness,” or “The Dance” if you so prefer. No matter what you call it or how you view it, businesses, sports enthusiasts, and families know how big the impact of March Madness is.

For me and my family, March Madness is almost better than Christmas. I grew up in Lawrence, Kan., home to basketball—compliments of Joe Naismith and the Kansas Jayhawks. Basketball spirit and tradition can be viewed in every home that lines the streets from lawn signs, flags, and window coverings. Every business shows their support, and I’ve never been to a college town (and I’ve been to my share) that exudes such incredible spirit than the wearing of Jayhawk attire by its citizens in Lawrence, Kan. I attribute a lot of my own approach to life and business as a principle to what the Kansas Jayhawks basketball team has taught me. It’s about tradition—supporting the underdog, and gracefully accepting victory. It’s robed in tenacity and the will to succeed, and not letting the bench take you down, no matter what. It’s not about the win, but how they win—if it was a team effort or the single efforts of one individual who carried more than their share this one time. It’s the essence of spirit and tradition that leaves us Jayhawk basketball fans drawn to this one month of the year: March!

Of course, to top it all off in this great month of March is St. Patrick’s Day. It’s the wearing of the green; the luck of the Irish, or the pot of gold and fabled legends of leprechauns. That’s the fairy tale, in real life and in this avid basketball fans’ world; it’s no mistake that Bracket Madness coincides with St. Patty’s Day. 

It’s a rite of passage for our daughters as they become eligible to partake in legal bar activities, to join us for the day’s festivities and wrap it up with the start of tournament play. Much like your typical Irish family, my sisters, my mom, and I can definitely set the day on fire with our resounding joys of Danny Boy,” “My Wild Irish Rose,” “Galway Bay,” and the day truly isA Little Bit of Heaven.” The only one who can really sing is mom, but that doesn’t stop the rest of us from thinking we can. Our planning for this great event begins March 18 of the previous year. We have our steadfast Irish pub in Tempe where we all gather, first in line for a table that grows from our group of six to a table of twelve or sixteen by the end of the day. We come ready for anything, and I do mean anything. Our green KU Rock Chalk T-shirts typically get us quite the fuss, and by the middle of the day, we’re battling it out via song and dance for our favored basketball team. Kansas fans are loud, but it’s only because we get no respect. 

It’s not hard to believe that basketball can bring so many strangers together in a setting full of celebration, and it ties us all as one for a few short hours on this day in March. Everyone is Irish on March 17, and everyone’s a basketball winner the day before the tournament begins. March Madness is a tradition of great competition, hope, and desperation for the fans, and a dance marathon that lasts for two weeks played to titles like Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, the Final Four, and of course, the climax of it all—the championship game.

So as the madness begins … if you see me with a tear in my eye, I’ll leave you to wonder why. Is it my Irish eyes smiling, or tears of hope for a team that’s taught me more than basketball—it’s taught me the game of life and how to enjoy it all the way to the end! Rock Chalk Jayhawk— Go KU!

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