There’s one day a year when you have the chance to be right. Not just right, but righter than almost anyone has EVER been.
I’m talking of course about the first day of March Madness. A pristine bracket lay before you with 63 chances to be right. (yes 63, stop trying to make the play-in round happen)
It doesn’t matter that you know it won’t really happen. There’s still that sliver of a what-if. What if I get one right, and then another, and another, and as they say in Dumb and Dumber, “so you’re saying there’s a chance!” The hope and anticipation is electric.
I was lucky enough to be born Joe Winter’s daughter. And that meant that the best Christmas presents as my brother and I got older were simple sheets of white printer paper, maybe in a binder, wrapped up in a Nordstrom box. And printed on those sheets of paper in large Times New Roman font were those magic words…”You are the recipient of a [year] sports package!” Red Sox tickets for the daughter in Boston, Cubs tickets for the son in Chicago. The Breeders Cup one year, the U.S. Open the next, the Kentucky Derby. The freaking Super Bowl, are you kidding me?!?!?
Beyond the joy and privilege of experiencing these events themselves, the unforgettable moments of my sporting life encapsulate the feelings I aspire to in the rest of my life.
I was at the Final Four in Indianapolis the year that Butler came up a rim bounce short of an epic upset win in the Championship game. The tension, the hope, the electricity was palpable.
I’ve sat in the Rose Bowl the moments before kickoff with the late afternoon sun giving my hometown San Gabriel Mountains that picture-perfect warm glow, backed by the perfect soundtrack of 100,000 excited fans, and literally been brought to tears.
I’ve sat in the Superdome when the blackout pressed pause on Super Bowl XLVII, before the 49ers mounted an almost-epic comeback.
And there’s that feeling again, that high. A shared experience of the unexpected. A sense of being a part of something bigger than you, history in the making. The feeling of community, optimism, anticipation that makes your whole body buzz.
So as my bracket takes flight this morning, my hopes for it echo what I’m looking for in life – the chance to be right, both in terms of intellect and integrity, and the chance to be electric.
Good luck to all, and here’s to March Madness!