Earlier this year, after the Davidson Wildcats fell to Wichita State in February, Grantland's Michael Kruse wrote of his alma mater's 2008 tournament run, and the program's journey in the years since. Kruse wrote:
I don’t really know the kids on this team, but I feel like I do, because I know where they go to class, and I know their professors and their coaches. They played hard Saturday, but in the end, it was pretty clear the better team won.
The story of Davidson basketball, I once wrote, is "the chase of the chance," and that shot by Jason Richards against Kansas on March 30, 2008, which would have put Davidson in the Final Four (!), was that chance in concentrated form. The moment was so full of possibility it was almost hard to watch.
March 2008? It was awesome. But 16 wins … then 18 wins … then 20? That’s somehow more authentic. More instructive. Davidson’s run in retrospect is a reminder: It’s not about the ring. It’s about the reach. Chances come and go. The chase doesn’t stop.
Last month, we asked our panel of experts a bunch of people we work with whether Ricky Williams was overrated, underrated, or properly rated. This month, we're taking a look at March Madness. Does anyone honestly think this great American tradition is overrated? (Spoiler alert: yep.)
The NCAA basketball tournament is my favorite event of the year. I support it unconditionally. However, it's become slightly overrated. I want to deny this, but I can't. It gets hammered by its own potential. Part of this is because we only remember historical moments that are awesome (and then unconsciously meld them into one collective memory of what "the NCAA tournament" is usually like). Another part has to do with two things that have changed within the past 10 years. It's possible both of them could be viewed as improvements, but it doesn't feel like it.
The NCAA tournament in March 2008 was so thrilling for us Davidson people, so consuming, so galvanizing, that it was next to impossible to not think grandiose thoughts. So now this is how it’s going to be.
Following the Texas Rangers' World Series loss, Dave Tarrant, of the Dallas Morning News, decided to give up sports for a year. "I'm determined to cut my obsession with sports," he wrote on his blog. "I want my life back. ... Haunted by all the time I've spent on the couch watching my team on the tube, I'm turning it off." His e-mails with Michael Kruse, a staff writer at the St. Petersburg Times and a contributing writer for Grantland, detail his his first true test -- his first Sunday without the NFL.
From: Tarrant, David To: Kruse, Michael
This is my first Sunday in self-imposed exile. I'm taking a year off from watching sports. For about 50 years, I've been your average fan, riding the ups and downs of my teams. In my case, it all started in the early 1960s in Pittsburgh. Bill Mazeroski's dramatic bottom-of-the-9th home run beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series and transformed a city better known for its belching smokestacks and woeful sports teams. The Pirates and Steelers were awful in the 1950s. When I moved to Dallas in my mid-20s, I adopted the colorful weak sisters of the local franchises -- the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Mavericks. No Cowboys for me, thank you. I remained a diehard Steelers fan. Over the years, I followed my four teams -- Pirates, Steelers, Rangers and Mavericks -- through thick and thin. In the late 1980s, when I went to work for a few years in Germany, I checked the box scores every day in Stars and Stripes or the International Herald Tribune.