Dear March Madness:
I know we only see each other for three weeks every year, but I wanted, no, needed you to know that these are the best three weeks of any given year that I can remember. I love you, March Madness; I always have, and I always will.
You are not a regular sports tournament, dear March Madness. You are something completely different. Because our love is limited to just 10 total days, there is a distinct thrill that comes with spending the next three weeks with you, and a desire to make all of those moments matter. And every one of them does.
You are fickle, though, March Madness. For starters, you're not the same tournament now that you were a few decades ago. You've grown from 64 teams, to 65 teams, and now all the way to 68 teams. In the future, you may grow even more, becoming a far more inclusive and inviting partner. I for one support this evolution, and I welcome our relationship to grow as you do. This only gives us more chances to embrace our love for one another, and work through some of the emotion heartache that you provide, making life even more difficult, but making our love that much more rewarding.
You knock me out, March Madness. And you do so in ways that can be difficult to work through, that's for sure. Because while you provide moments that can be unmatched in their awe and inspiration, you sometimes make it necessary for us to feel the pain of heartbreak in order to love you more.
You have hurt our relationship like this before, and made it very difficult to come back the next year. But you have done so for an important reason, a reason that an Ohio State football coach always championed: anything easy ain't worth a damn. You are not easy. We can't always have it the way we want it - I know this and you do. But you make it so that we must work for your love, and you must work for ours. And that is incredibly important.
You make me smile, March Madness. You do it every year, without fail. Sometimes, it's with your uncanny ability to let miracles happen when the last thing you expect is something like that to occur.
Where else in the world can you find - and who else in the world can provide - such amazing moments? There is only one single entity in the world that can do this. It's you, March Madness. It's always been you, and it always will be.
There are other championships in the world, March Madness. But yours is the most important, the easiest to love, and the best to shout out over the rooftops. Because every year, you ask 68 teams to compete for one goal. And after 40 minutes, you make sure that one team has played their final game of the season. It's a cruel trick, March Madness, but it's part of your charm, part of your unique character, and part that I wait for every year with baited breath.
You constantly surprise me, March Madness. Not with your last second shots (though you certainly do with those), or with your Cinderella teams (and you do with those, too). But with the undying fact that every single year, no matter what, one team our of the 68 that you invite, will inevitably win six straight games and cut down nets. One team will go 5-1 and wonder what could have been. You're a temptress is a lot of ways, March Madness, but one to which I worship at the alter.
So as you come once again into my life, I wanted to let you know that the next three weeks, the next 10 days, and the next 64 games, I am happy you are in my life. You aren't perfect (just ask
Kentucky Virginia or Maryland), but you are as close as we can get to in this crazy world of sports. Without you, our March would be filled with golf and soccer and regular season pro basketball. But because you are here, we are happy. I am happy.
Welcome back, March Madness. It's been too long, as usual. I'll hate to watch you go in three weeks, but I'll treasure the time you're here, just like I always do.
In love and basketball,