Today is supposed to be a day about dreams coming true. Today is supposed to be a day about hard work paying off. Today is supposed to be a day about why you signed that letter of intent as a 17-year old kid in high school. Unfortunately to no one’s fault, dreams have been cut short, the hard work has come to a stop, and no one will get their moment to shine. Today just won’t be the same.
Instead of Selection Sunday, it’ll be more like Social Distancing Sunday. Teams and student bodies won’t be hovered around televisions awaiting to hear their school name called by CBS’ Greg Gumbel. Teams and student bodies won’t be holding their breath hoping they’ve done enough to impress the selection committee to receive an invite to “The Dance”. We all know the Kansas’, Kentucky’s, and Duke’s of the world were locked into the field of 68.
Even around our neck of the woods it’s a mere formality for Jay Wright and his Villanova Wildcats to see their name on one of the brackets. No doubt it’s a shame those kids won’t get the chance to live out their dream while seniors had their college careers come to a screeching halt.
However, my heart goes out to schools and fan bases like Penn State and Rutgers. The Nittany Lions were on their way to their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2011 while the last time the Scarlet Knights put their dancing shoes on, “The Silence of the Lambs” was the number one box office movie (1991). Today, silence will be the voice of the college basketball community. No euphoria for finally getting over that hump and proudly pumping your school’s name on your chest. I know the feeling of being a lesser known basketball program who earns the chance to be loud and proud.
I take you back to 2013. My school, La Salle University, had a fantastic regular season (21-9) including two wins in the same week against top-20 opponents. Then came Selection Sunday and what an agonizing hour I endured. Was their resume enough to punch their ticket? 66 teams announced. One matchup to go. When La Salle’s name was revealed, to say I was excited was an understatement. My kids had no idea why I was yelling and screaming in the house. La Salle made the First Four in Dayton and turned their invite into a trip to the Sweet 16. What a ride those couple of weeks were as I got to experience March Madness with a horse in the race.
Yes, basketball and all sports are secondary at this time. Family and health are the top priority while filling out brackets and block pools are simply an afterthought. The feeling of uncertainty is like a dark cloud hovering around all of us everyday. I just wish it didn’t wash away the dreams of the student athletes and their respective fans who don’t always experience that “One Shining Moment”.