At 9:30 yesterday (March 22) I received the email. I had just finish reading the Bible and praying. Was there a connection?
The email said two tickets were available for March Madness (for my foreign readers and non-sports enthusiasts, that’s the college basketball tournament) that evening in Philadelphia. I wasn’t particularly interested in the two games. The first game was a #15 seed vs. a #2 seed and the second game was a #7 seed vs. a #10 seed. I thought, the 1st game will be a blow out, but the 2nd game should be exciting.
I got the tickets, and text-ed my son Nate at school, “Interested in going to the Madness tonight?” I’m not on a text plan (that text cost me 25 cents), and I have an old dumb phone where you have to hit the “7” button four times to get an “S” to appear in your text. I don’t send a lot of texts. Nate knew something was up. (I almost extracted Nate from school, but then he would have been disqualified for the National Academic Decathlon competition that he and his HS team will participate in next month.)
We would be close to the Madness, sitting in the front row in the lower corner section (the person I was getting the tickets from had connections).
Of the four schools playing I knew something about three of them.
The late game: San Diego State (#7) vs. Oklahoma (#10). I attended a national youth conference in high school with my church (Evangelical Free Church) at SDSU, which ironically had a reputation as a party school. SDSU was a beautiful campus near the beach. Growing up in Ames, IA I secretly thought that going to Oklahoma for college would be more than OK because the Sooners always crushed the Iowa State in football. (The Cyclones crushed the Fighting Irish last night, which I picked.)
The early game: Georgetown (#2) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (#15). I knew that Georgetown was a great school with a great basketball team, but I had never heard of Florida Gulf Coast. The reason I hadn’t heard of them is that the school was a virtual whippersnapper in the college world. It’s first alumni didn’t graduate until 1997 (only 16 years ago).
The game would feature a teen-aged David (FGCU) vs. the Giant Goliath Georgetown.
I said to the folks sitting next to me, “This game will be a blowout.” Yes, a blowout of sorts. They won by 10 (78-68), but were ahead by a lot more in the 2nd half. They, being “David” aka, Florida Gulf Coast. I know Harvard beating New Mexico was huge (#14 over #3), but this was bigger.
FGCU was the most exciting basketball team I’ve ever seen. Check out these slams.
Afterwords, I shook the hands and congratulated two of the stars: Sherwood Brown (24 points, 9 rebounds and dreadlocks) and Eddie Murray (9 points, most of these were on 3 monster slams).
After I told him I was there for “The Play”- Stanford vs. Berkeley (1982) and “The Final” – Federer vs. Nadal at Wimbledon (2008), my friend John Franke started calling me Forest Gump.
So, next time you have extra tickets to a sporting event and you want it to be memorable, who are you going to call?