Monday, March 05, 2007

Thank Goodness its March [J. Mark English]

If February is the worst month in sports, then March makes up for it by being the best month for sports.

The Wall Street Journals' the Daily Fix sums up the first and most important reason to love March:

It's March, and there's Madness in the air: Conference titles are being handed out and the roster of 65 teams for the NCAA men's tournament is starting to fill up. Welcome, Penn (Ivy), Winthrop (Big South), Belmont (Atlantic Sun), Davidson (Southern), Eastern Kentucky (Ohio Valley) and Creighton (Missouri Valley).

Oceans of ink will soon be spilled over the doings of the selection committee; for now, the Fix has some games to discuss.

In Chapel Hill, the ferocious rivalry between No. 8 UNC and No. 14 Duke turned bloody toward the end of a 86-72 UNC win -- a win that gave the Tar Heels a season sweep of the Blue Devils and the No. 1 seed in the ACC's conference tourney. But the talk was of the right elbow of Duke's Gerald Henderson, and its connection with the nose of UNC's Tyler Hansbrough, he of 28 points, 17 rebounds and a fair amount of blood lost. (Fairly or not, Mr. Henderson was given a one-game suspension for the foul.)

The second reason to love March? Spring training baseball. No, its not real. But the boys of summer get their game on early for us in the sun belts of Florida and Arizona. The games are broadcasted every day, bringing us close and closer to opening day. You can sense the anticipation in the air for the start of a six month marathon that ends with the cruel reality of winter. For now, there is only hope of new life, spring is in the air, summer is almost here, and there is fun to be had.

Most people who love baseball are also involved in fantasy baseball. I'm in a league that has existed since 1997. This is our eleventh year, and it only gets better with time. I'm so pumped for our draft that it almost feels like Christmas is in March, not December.

Other reasons to be thrilled its March. The NBA and NHL come down to their last few weeks before the playoffs. Now comes the final push, and the dog days of the two sports are finally over. Every loss carries greater significance. Every win is more and more treasured. Its a war of jockeying for better playoff spots.

Tonight the Isles take on the Rangers. Its a match up of desperation for both teams. The two points that are up for grabs will go along way in determining who will be playing golf in April, and who will still be on the ice. The intensity will be up a few more notches tonight.

Can you ask for more? Baseball, hockey, basketball all in full swing. The NFL combines are going on at the same time, and the teams are preparing for the draft, and looking to scoop up free agency. NASCAR is racing every week. Professional golfers are preparing for the mecca of all tournaments, the Masters in Augusta.

March is mad with brutal athletic competition. How fitting is it that March is named after the Roman god, "Mars", the god of war? The god of wars must be smiling somewhere in Mount Olympus that his month is known as the month of madness, the month of ultimate competition...the month of war on the court, on the field, and on the ice.

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