Being a basketball fan in March
“March is a month without mercy for rabid basketball fans,” the great journalist and author Hunter S. Thompson once said.
Although Thompson was a devoted University of Kentucky fan (we will forgive him that), we know all too well that of which he speaks.
Through all tiers of the game here in the heart of Tobacco Road, we will have fans and players sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for outcomes in the coming days and weeks.
Your high school may be heading down the homestretch to the state finals tonight – that would be Hillside and Chapel Hill girls and Orange boys this year. Or your team may have captured the regular-season title like N.C. Central men did in the MEAC.
Perhaps you have been cheering on your respective team as the ACC women duke it out for the title. Or you may be ready to glue yourself to the television at 9 tonight for the final regular-season match-up between the Duke and UNC men.
For those of us who call Tobacco Road home, it is indeed a month without mercy as we celebrate each point on the board with our teams and despair at each missed free throw.
It’s hard to describe to the uninitiated why friends take a game so seriously that they may not be able to watch the Duke vs. UNC game in the same room if they root for different teams.
For the high school teams, it’s a chance to shine and a moment the kids will remember. For some of the players, it will be the final time they will put on a jersey. For others, it will be the gateway to many games at the next level of play, like N.C. State’s T. J. Warren, a Riverside grad who can’t seem to score fewer than 30 points a game for the Wolfpack.
For the colleges, it’s the opportunity to receive wider notoriety, capture more titles and gain bragging rights.
But the true winners when all is said and done will be us, the fans. We have in store some terrific games. We will root hard and coach well from the sidelines. We will question calls and have faith in our hearts that our team will win, even if the odds are against them.
Basketball is a deeply ingrained part of our existence here. We are proud of all of our teams, and proud to call a region with such a rich sports tradition home. As Thompson also said: “I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I am a life-long addict.”