Sports World: March Madness or Gladness?
The first day of Spring is technically March 20th.
Clearly, the Northland doesn’t get too concerned with technicalities.
Most of our yards still feature FEET of snow, weather warnings, and school delays still frequently scroll across the bottom of our TV screens, and it can still be tough to tell the difference between a sidewalk and a skating rink.
Perhaps we question ourselves: Why do we live here? With every snowflake in the forecast, our anger increases. This is madness!
Yes, it is. It’s the only March Madness in our area this year.
Not because neither the Gophers nor Badgers qualified for either NCAA Basketball Tournament (Wisconsinites: Stop pretending you cared about Marquette suddenly. It’s bandwagon, even for you), but simply because -- despite the legendary name for this time of year, there is no reason to be mad at all.
If you’re a sports fan of this area (and if you’re reading my columns, you probably should be), this is “March Gladness!” There are plenty of reasons to be thrilled to be living here!
About a week after the boys from Hermantown captivated our area, Duluth had the hockey spotlight thanks to the Women’s Frozen Four. While it’s disappointing that UMD did not qualify this year, a ton of credit goes to those who gave incredible effort to make the event come to life at the gem that is Amsoil Arena.
How did anyone at UMD find the time? Bulldog basketball has stolen the show in the past week and reminded everyone that life isn’t always about hockey.
I grew up in the Dale Race and Karen Stromme era of UMD hoops. I was also fortunate enough to be a radio play-by-play voice for the Bulldogs when both Stromme and Gary Holquist were in charge. Basketball at UMD was always good, yet rarely received the recognition it deserved.
Justin Wieck and Mandy Pearson have certainly changed that equation. Look no further than the crowd at Romano Gym on a blustery March 13th, when the UMD women captured the region title. 24 hours later, the men did the same in Missouri. Suddenly the word “elite” is surrounding UMD so often, P.J. Fleck may have to get Forrest Karr’s permission to keep using it in interviews.
Yet Fleck’s sport would never be outdone. Football knows better. There are “pro days” for college players becoming NFL prospects. Fans can immerse themselves in these if they miss the gridiron already. I’d say the NFL knows no offseason, but I’d be wrong.
The futures of Adam Thielen, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith, Dalvin Cook, and others get Super Bowl-esque attention (although as a Vikings fan born in 1979 – can I even be confident in that comparison?). Google was working overtime on searches for Josh Oliver and Byron Murphy recently too.
The offseason speculation generates nearly as much emotion as the season itself. I’m not sure what constitutes a slow news day in the NFL anymore. Thanks to Aaron Rodgers, perhaps nothing does.
Do Green Bay fans even support this guy anymore? In my opinion, he’s a better quarterback than Brett Favre ever was but his legacy won’t come close to his predecessor.
Digest that for a second: Rodgers will have less of a legacy than a guy who openly feuded with the Packers for years, played for a rival, and became known for lewd pictures and questionable actions with money.
Nice work, Aaron (you said A-A-ron didn’t you) – good thing you mainly care about yourself.
While I want the Rodgers discussion to go away, I’m in no hurry for March to do the same. I’m overwhelmed by March Gladness.
One of the hottest teams in the NHL is the Minnesota Wild. A promising Minnesota Twins team will open the regular season before March ends. Prep basketball crowns state champions for both girls and boys by the end of the month. Thanks to NBA Western Conference craziness, the Minnesota Timberwolves can go from a 5 seed to an 11 seed and back in about two days each week.
Speaking of seeds, I’ll go back to the “March Madness” origin. My bracket is currently the Minnesota Vikings defense from this past season. It’s terrible in most matchups, but somehow still has a decent chance to win.
Regardless of snow accumulations -- the month of March is “a win.” Yet, this might be easy to say, for a guy who can’t effectively shovel. While I don’t think “God bless having Cerebral Palsy in the winter,” will become a catchphrase -- perhaps “March Gladness” will.
I am not necessarily glad that my winter announcing season has ended, but I’m certainly not mad by any stretch. I finally get to take in more sports as a fan and sit home and R-E-L-A-X with my family.
Did I just say that? R-E-L-A-X?
Oh no, Rodgers is getting to me too! Perhaps I’ll go sit in darkness. Maybe I can just sit atop a mountain of snow in my yard and reflect on my actions.
Nah, I assure you I’ll gladly chat with you on the radio each weekend! I’m so GLAD to have the show!
Brian's show, 'The Northland Sports Page', can be heard Saturdays from 10 am to noon on the FAN 106.5 FM/560 AM. You can catch previous episodes on the Northland FAN On-Demand area of our website or on our mobile app.