It's that time of year . . . March Madness!

My son took it particularly hard when his favorite college basketball team lost their final game to their rival. They had a great year, a 14-2 record, losing only away games. One loss to a buzzer beater, the other loss? Well, let's just say, they deserved to lose that one and lost the chance to host the Big Sky tournament. They remain undefeated at home, and it's been so much fun to watch them play.

He's almost 14 now, but my baby boy has always loved basketball. When he was younger, he was ballboy for his team and he's gotten to know the players. They are so cool to him, bang knuckles with him, chit-chat with him, help him at their basketball camps in the summer. The power forward, whom everyone agrees is the nicest man on the planet, took time after camp one day to give my boy some pointers on his shot. When they came walking out of the gym together, both dribbling balls, I thought they could've been brothers. Well, the power forward certainly treated my boy like a brother. That's for sure. My husband even mentors the new freshmen players who show up in his classes as basketball is still the most important thing in their lives, not their studies.

We actually had a choir concert the night of their last game. We turned on the radio in the car and when we heard the score, I could literally see the happiness just burst out of my son, like sails that have lost their wind. My husband suggested we watch the last five minutes or so, but it was so painful. They were playing so badly. My poor boy just got up and stalked quietly away. When I went in to his room to tuck him in and kiss him goodnight (yeah, I still do that), he didn't say a thing. In fact, he didn't respond at all. This is really unusual for him. He's not a sulky teen. And the whole time I'm thinking, "Come on, snap out of it! It's just a game!"

Years ago when I was teaching basic comp at the local university, a young man wrote a paper about this very thing, how he was so disappointed that his team lost the big game. Honestly, I could not comprehend the emotions associated with that. How could one be so sad over the loss of a sports team and literally experience depression? Well, I'm still not sure I know the answer to that, but I certainly can empathize a lot better now after seeing these symptoms in my own child. All I know his team better win the tournament and do a little dancin' at the NCAA or I'm going to be mad! I can't take watching my kid do that again.

So enjoy this month, friends. College basketball is an amazing thing to watch. They're so talented and play with so much HEART. That's the part I like, playing (or doing anything) with heart.


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