The NCAA Tournament
was cancelled last year…
But March Madness wasn’t.
A team of scrappy competitors
battled an unknown opponent.
It was bigger, stronger and
had the psychological edge.
As is often the case in sports,
and life, it came down to determination.
The will to succeed.
The Final Four is woven
into the fabric of America.
A yearly reality show playing
out right in front of our eyes.
And while college basketball was on hiatus
last year, the players at Mike’s suited up.
Just a little team out of nowhere with
no business being in the big dance.
The weight of a whole
community on our shoulders
There were no cameras or cheering crowds.
Each night the clock struck 00:00.
Every morning it started over again.
As the late great Jim Valvano would say,
Survive and advance.
I’ll never forget driving home from
work that Saturday in March.
Back then I insisted on being the only
one to run market, an attempt to shield
my team from potential danger.
I drove slowly down North St,
my eyelids like lead weights.
Then I noticed something.
A man, standing in front of his mailbox.
He was wearing a mask, blue rubber gloves,
holding kitchen tongs and a garbage bag.
I watched, my mouth agape, as he
reached into the mailbox, took the mail out with
the tongs, placed the mail in the garbage bag,
tied it shut and held the bag away from him.
We were handling more boxes at Mike’s than UPS.
“If you can get this from a
piece of mail, then we’re F*#*ed!”
I said aloud, to an audience of zero.
The NCAA tournament was the first
major sporting event cancelled last March.
It resumes tonight.
The joy of watching kids
play the game they love.
Another step on the path to our new normal.
While the cameras catch some amazing
acts, what happens behind the
scenes is what makes a champion.
The hard work, the selflessness, the sacrifice.
Doctors, nurses, grocery workers,
moms, first responders, teachers.
Last March, everyone
was on the court…
We just didn’t realize it.
It wasn’t Basketball.
But it was Madness.