Friday, March 20, 2009

Beware of the Phog

This is not a typical post, but I must pay my respect. Matters not if you are a basketball fan, March marks the sweet arrival of March Madness. If you are a University of Kansas alumni, often, NCAA men's basketball holds a special place in your heart, and holds your attention span from November to April. From the launch of Late Night ( a tradition kicking off the season) to the hopeful prayers your team can go the Big Dance, baskeball fans across the country treasure this time of year. And since today is the first game for the beloved Hawks, today is the day I pay public tribute.

Since the first season in 1898, Kansas Jayhawk fans stand in rapt attention as the season unfolds. With 37 Final Four tournament appearances, and 42 conference championships (including seven of the past ten years), when it comes to hope, we look to find a reason to believe.

Perhaps we feel we have a leg up on our competitors, since, after all, the inventor of the game of basketball was the very first men's basketball coach at KU. Or because we have had college legends both as players and as coaches. Or later when one of Naismith's players, Phog Allen, became coach, he would also be considered the architect of the modern NCAA tournament. Oh Kansas Basketball, its all in the bloodline baby.

The games we attended in school were incredible. Believe the hype. Although I never had to camp out or any of that required tradition for the underclassmen, I don't regret it. Love of the game or not, Id rather not spend the night in a hallway in a sleeping bag. But the games...they were incredible. And the seniors farewell game every year? Bring your kleenex. Watching giant men who are really young men say goodbye to a beloved sport in a town that holds them as heroes, was a moving part of the end of the season. The year Jacque Vaughn told 17,000 fans that if he became one tenth of the man Coach Roy Williams is then he will feel he truly succeeded was one of my all-time favorite sports moments.

Athletics teach people, especially kids, a number of important fundamentals of life like discipline, teamwork, and how to be a gracious winner and loser. What better place to learn it than Allen Fieldhouse.

Now let me tell you a fun story. One one of my mom's plethora of visits to see me during my tenure at the University of Kansas, she sat next to a nice gentleman on her trip from Seattle to the airport in Kansas City. All the while bragging on and on (and on and on) about her beloved daughter, and all my clever emails (can you blame her) and wonderful accomplishments. He said he too had a wonderful family and loved the University of Kansas. He also shared that he had deep lineage at KU and was particularly fond of the basketball program. When I asked her who he was, she couldn't quite recall. Then a lightbulb went off and she said, "oh, I think there is a building on campus named after his family, maybe his grandfather. Foghorn something..."
Yes, I chastised her for referring to Phog Allen as FOGHORN and was astounded that my love of sports clearly was clearly a patriarchal influence. The man on the plane? It was Phog Allen's grandson. Oh, I am quite positive the grandson of legendary Phog Allen for whom Allen Fieldhouse is named after was truly tickled by the nonstop monologue my mom shared with him of my precious little activities. That is like telling Al Gore's grandson you write a blog, when you know, Al Gore created the internet.

But I digress. Back to my love of the game. Now, I get a big thrill each year by participating in "the brackets" a fun-filled way to bet on the 64 teams who enter the NCAA tournament. Typically, someone I work with executes the pool and manages the process. All I have to do was pick my teams, and collect my winnings. I brag not, but I have participated in the tournament brackets for years, and I have won, multiple times. And one year I entered a pool at a friend's office and when I won, they wanted to revoke my cash money because A) I was not an employee B) I was the only non-engineer C) I was the only woman in the tournament pool.
Don't cry for me, Argentina.
They allowed me to win in title, but I dont believe I ever collected my handsome reward. And I will answer the same question now that I did the first several times I won, NO, my boyfriend did not pick my teams for me. And now, no, JohnnyMac does not pick my teams for me. Although, on a side note, he brought the heat down on me last year and advanced far beyond what I was able to accomplish, so never say never.

Teddy Roosevelt once said after hearing the haunting refrain of the Rock Chalk Jayhawk chant, that it was the greatest college chant he had ever heard. You better believe it.
Rockkkkkkkk Chalkkkkkkk Jayhawkkkkkkkkkk. Kaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.
And our alma mater: Far above the golden valley, glorious to view, stands our noble alma mater, towering toward the blue. Hail to thee KU.

So here is to the best of luck for my favorite team, and I am hoping my success in the brackets pays dividends. ROCK CHALK!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister!

The basketball gods are smiling on me today - I can just squeeze my very pregnant belly into my favorite KU sweatshirt. :)