Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Let's Dance.

Hallelujah, March Madness is back! The Big Dance—a showdown of Davids and Goliaths that has served up some pretty dramatic stuff over the years—Magic vs. Bird  Part I, Chris Webber's meltdown, Christian Laettner's turn-around buzzer beater off Grant Hill's laser throw from seventy feet away.

It's usually my favorite annual sporting event—and if something kind of sweet hadn't happened six weeks ago in New Jersey, the "Road to North Texas" would be a lead pipe cinch to be my favorite spectator sport shindig again this year. 

By the way, what's the deal with "Road to North Texas"? Shouldn't it be a road to Abilene or Lubbock or some actual town? I'll try to give it some context:

"You goin' to the kegger? 

"Dunno. War is it?"

"Road to north Texas. Couple mahls in. Take a left at the class boulder."

"Yammo be there thiin." 

Time to nestle into the La-Z Boy with the granddaddy of sporting theater. Wait, now I'm cuddling with someone's grandpa. Let's move over to the barcalounger and bear witness—the game winners from forty feet, the double-digit underdogs plunking the Dukes and Kentuckys and Kansaseseses right in their pompous pie holes.

By the way, this year's "I've never heard of them" award goes Wofford College, a liberal arts institution of fifteen hundred students in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Their nickname is the "Terriers," and they'll be facing some Wolverines in the first round. Prediction? Too close to call:

But while these tremendously skilled eighteen- to twenty-two-year-old athletes are the actors in the drama, it's the coaches who provide the improvisational human element in their roles as directors. They glide, they stomp, they crouch.

They cry.

And these fellas dress nicely—always have.

For generations, hoop coaches have exhibited sartorial splendor, sacrificing the more casual looks enjoyed by their managerial brethren on America's diamonds and gridirons.

"Hi, I'm Jim Harbaugh, and when I have a tantrum, nothing says comfort and confidence like Wal-Mart khakis. They can even handle a little poop when I really snap. Wal-Mart khakis. Tell 'em The Harbro sent ya."

If anyone shouldn't have to wear a tie, it's the basketball coach. Imagine the stuffy environs these guys played in. 

I'm picturing a dark smokey airplane hangar that smells of stiff sock and musky virgin pine.

For a while, some coaches tried sweaters. 

Imagine the juices these guys were basting in after three quarters. I've heard Bobby Knight emitted a homey pork roast fragrance.

But eventually, they found a way to keep it classy, many tromping down the GQ trail blazed by Pat Riley.

And going all in with the school colors. Go Dawgs.

Of course, sometimes the team color thing looks a little better on paper.

Let's dance.

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