EDITOR’S COLUMN: Don’t Hate Me for Being Eternally Hooked on ‘March Madness’

Courtesy of ncaa.com
Courtesy of ncaa.com

I’m not sure when it first began — perhaps when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird stars of their representative teams Michigan State and Indiana State, squared off in one of college basketball’s most memorable showdowns for the men’s championship trophy — and the bragging rights therein.

Whenever it first occurred, I can’t seem to recall a time when I wasn’t a hardcore fanatic, a diehard lover of those “Derby Dandies” — just plain crazed and lost in a world of three-point shots, high-flying slam dunks and calculating timeout strategies — that week each spring when the best teams in college basketball lock heads during magical, mind-blowing and sometimes last minute miraculous antics some call “March Madness.”

I remember shortly after entering the business world with Fortune 500 giant IBM, the ink on my college diploma barely dry, when the “dance” began again — my first time as a member in corporate America. Throwing caution to the wind, I took a week of vacation so I could see each and every game. Thank goodness technological advances wouldn’t make that necessary for long — I could see the games at my leisure — recorded on new gadgets and safely stored away.

Those were the good old days when coaches like John Thompson, Jim Valvano, Bobby Knight and Dean Smith reigned supreme while players gave their all not for signing bonuses, a throng of women or flashy cars and homes, but for the game they genuinely loved. Those were the days when names like Isaiah Thomas, Bill Walton, Patrick Ewing, Ralph Sampson and Michael Jordan held fans young and old under their spell like the mythical Pied Piper of Hamlin.

Some teams advanced with ease to the final game as predicted like talent-laded tandems of super heroes playing against a misfit menagerie of pint-sized little boys and girls, physically and mentally unfamiliar with the game. Others would pull off historic upsets, forever leaving their mark in the annals of college basketball — Davids slaying Goliaths, Cinderellas finally getting a chance to go to the ball.

No one was guaranteed a victory as it only took one game to be eliminated. One game could bring young men to their knees in total defeat and emotional surrender, allowing others to partake of the succulent, sweet taste of victory temporarily ensconced in newfound state of unprecedented euphoric ecstasy.

This year, on the eve of March Madness, my alma mater, the University of Michigan, the lowest-ranked team in the tourney, would shock all who stood in their path, from top-rated Purdue to their longtime nemesis, Wisconsin, taking the Big Ten crown and receiving an automatic bid to the “dance” — one of the NCAA’s coveted collection of 68 playoff-bound teams.

I shouted, sang the fight song, “Hail to the Victors” and put on every piece of “Go Blue” paraphernalia that I could find urging my team to victory in the final few minutes — even praying that they would not squander their lead and lose.

There’s nothing like March Madness when two basketball teams challenge one another in a winner-takes-all encounter with some teams emerging victorious despite not being the most talented group on the court.

In many ways, it’s like the game of life — when you’re prepared, put everything within in to the task at hand and come totally psyched up and believe in yourself, nothing’s impossible. Here’s to March Madness 2017 when the unthinkable occurs, the favorites of gamblers fail to win, place or show and when even the most remote dreams come true.

About D. Kevin McNeir – Washington Informer Editor 158 Articles

Award-winning journalist, book editor, voice-over specialist and author with 17 years in the industry. Currently an education and religion beat reporter for The Washington Informer. But I also tackle local (D.C. and Maryland) politics, entertainment, business and health articles to maintain my edge.

Born and raised in Motown and a staunch Wolverine – that is a graduate of the University of Michigan, I left corporate America (IBM) to pursue my passion for writing, accepting a beat reporter’s gig under the tutelage of the late Sam Logan, founding publisher of the Michigan Chronicle. I continued to hone my craft at N’DIGO Magapaper, Windy City Times and The Wednesday Journal, all in Chicagoland; the Atlanta Voice and The Miami Times. I’ve been fortunate to be chosen twice as the Feature Writer of the Year by the Chicago Association of Black Journalists. Later, as the senior editor of one of the country’s oldest Black-owned newspapers, The Miami Times, I helped my staff bring home the NNPA’s highest honor – Publication of the Year, 2001. That same year I picked up first and second place awards for news and feature writing, respectively, also from the NNPA.

Today I’m based in the nation’s capital where I’m honored to serve as the editor for The Washington Informer. Recognizing the importance of education, I’ve earned two master’s degrees from Emory University, Summa Cum Laude and Princeton Theological Seminary, majoring in theology and philosophy.

If I can slow down, I may actually complete and publish a collection of essays I’ve been working on for many years, “Growing up Motown,” sharing childhood memories of experiences with musical legends like Marvin Gaye, Kim Weston, the Four Tops, the Miracles, Gladys Knight and Take Six. My favorite foods: spinach, lasagna, pancakes and Oysters Rockefeller. My mom, 86, always my “best friend” and “cheerleader,” now lives with me and she brings me great joy. I’m a fiercely protective yet encouraging father and grandfather always down for traveling, shopping or celebrating the natural beauty of God’s world. I live by the following words: “Less is more” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

You can reach me on Twitter (@dkevinmcneir), Facebook (Kevin McNeir) or via e-mail, mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com