I happily live on "Tobacco Road" where college basketball is paramount. The rivalry between the schools here is intense, most particularly between Duke and UNC, although NC State and Wake Forest have their influence.
As an avid Duke fan I proudly fly the flag on the front of my house throughout the season, across the street from a young lad who has a powder blue mailbox. Families are split and boast license plate covers that are half Duke blue and half UNC blue. People paint their houses Duke blue and buy cars that are Duke blue - flying multiple car flags during tournament season. One year when UNC won the National Championship our street was painted in powder blue letters forcing the grumbling Duke fans to drive over it every day for almost a year.
The first March I lived here (some 20 years ago) I kept hearing everyone talk about some basketball game. I asked my husband if there was a school near by that had a team and what was all the fuss about. I was from New York - and totally anti-sports. It didn't take long after watching the famous Hurley - Laettner shot I was hooked. Since then I have been known to do such things as to sneak away to a local sport's bar during a "required" family event to catch a tournament game.
I see multiple benefits of being so immersed in something so seemingly inane. It's a great way to pass the miserable winter months. As soon as March Madness arrives, so too does Spring! Secondly, at least on Tobacco Road, I have been thoroughly impressed by the integrity of the college basketball program. Coach K holds his players to the highest standards. He is a teacher, a coach, an inspiration...the quintessential leader. He demands excellence with love. Each player is required to volunteer in the community, excel academically and perform on the court. It's a thrill to watch the young men that come under his tutelage grow and blossom over the four years (now less) that they are here. He turns boys into exceptional men and as a parent of sons I found the program to provide an exceptional role model.
Excellence is something many young people have quit striving for and perhaps older people as well. We've become complacent in so many ways, the complacency that comes with always having enough. As the media continues to select our role models we find little to inspire us.
I complain a lot about living in North Carolina, but college basketball may be one of the best reasons for staying. Got to go catch the game: Duke vs. Georgia Tech - the ACC in motion! GO DUKE!