In the spring of 1939, March Madness was born, with the first ever NCAA basketball tournament taking place. There were only eight teams that year in the tournament, with the final four teams of Villanova, Ohio State, Oregon, and Oklahoma. The Bucks and The Ducks (nice rhyme) played the final game on March 27, 1939, with the Ducks winning 46-33.
Also on March 27 of that same year, my father was born. I find it ironic that in the same year he was born, his future alma mater was in the championship game (too bad they didn't win).
What do these two events have in common besides their date? One of my favorite sports to watch is basketball and one of my favorite people in the world is my father. He taught me so many things; love, compassion, honesty, respect, tolerance. He is a sensitive and caring person and has the best, albiet dryest, sense of humor. He taught me that you can find humor in ALMOST any situation and to make the best of it. I can always count on him to make me laugh.
My dad has always loved sports, basketball being one of them, and growing up he often shared this enjoyment with me. I remember watching football games with him (and keeping my distance when the Buckeyes lost to Michigan), having him teach me to keep stats while watching baseball games, and of course there was basketball. I think because it was the easiest for me to understand and fast paced, was the reason I grew to love it so much. I also have always enjoyed the result of the games often being determined right down to the very last second. Just when you think one team has won a game, the other team nails a shot at the buzzer and turns it all around.
One of the most important things my dad taught me about sports, and life in general, is sportsmanship. While winning is great and losing isn't always fun, playing the game (or in our case watching it) is the best part. Growing up I loved going to sporting events with him, because just being at the game was so much fun! I still remember the endless 13 inning Tigers baseball game where my dad, brother and I started making up songs, inspired by players' names in the game program, just to entertain ourselves. We were having so much fun with that, we didn't even care at that point who won. There has also been times that my Purdue Boilermakers beat his beloved Buckeyes and he didn't care, because he was so happy for me that my team had won.
I think why I love sports so much is because of the memories I have of watching games with him. We still love to talk on the phone and exchange emails about the various games our favorite teams play, and about which teams we picked to win games in our NCAA bracket. I thought about these memories recently when we took the girls to a couple of Indiana Pacer games, and when I sat down with my them to watch Purdue (lose) in the Sweet Sixteen last night. I am hoping they enjoy these moments as much as I do and that they will one day share these memories with their own children.
March is a great month! Spring arrives, March Madness begins, and of course I get to celebrate the life of one of the two great people that brought me into this world.
Happy 70th Birthday, Dad! Thanks for all you do for us!