Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Deadlines and Commitments vs. the 24 Hours of Hoops

I was 14 years old when I first heard "Against the Wind" by Bob Seger.  It was such a great song that I immediately went out and got "Against the Wind" and "Nine Tonight" as well as Seger's older albums "Night Moves" and "Live Bullet".  Very quickly, I became a huge Bob Seger fan.  And as much as I loved songs like "Katmandu", "Beautiful Loser", "Till it Shines", "You'll Accompany Me" and the live "Mainstreet", no Seger song spoke to me over the years more than "Against the Wind".
"I was living to run and running to live
Never worried about paying
or even how much I owed.
Moving eight miles a minute for months at a time
Breaking all of the rules that would bend..."
Ten years later, I was 24 years old, had a good paying job, an attractive girlfriend, and a basement apartment that I was rarely ever in.  Somehow I was doing something every night and all weekend, playing in four softball leagues, hanging out with friends at bars, going to baseball games or spending time with the girlfriend.  I had no savings, but no cares and having an out and out ball.

Over the years, the girlfriend became an ex, the softball leagues lessened from four to one, then eventually none and priorities changed.  I started a new job in 1993 and it took a work colleague to thankfully yell at me to ask out my wife over 16 years ago.  We got married in 1996 and started saving for a house while taking that one summer vacation a year. In 2002 we moved into our first house, our current house.

I always had been a big college basketball fan, but during this time, actually three years prior starting in 1999,  I became even a bigger fan.  Thanks to the Flying Dutchmen teams of Speedy Claxton, Norman Richardson, Jason Hernandez and Rick Apodaca, my love of college hoops grew.  First it was season tickets to Hofstra games and as many games at MSG that I could go to, then the annual road trips to Richmond with Tieff.  Then Tieff and I started doing other road trips to Towson, Drexel, and Delaware.  I was learning that there was nothing better than watching live college basketball

In July of 2005, my first son Matthew was born.  Most of my time was spent at work, taking care of my first born with my wife, and the rare free moments in the winter, college basketball.  During this time I started my college basketball blog in December 2005.  Little did I know then how special that 2005-06 season would become.

In the past few years, thanks to a very understanding wife, I have gone to the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Raleigh, seen the first ever Charleston Classic, and continued to go to a lot of local area games, including keeping my section 111 Row D seats at Hofstra and seeing my friend, Tony Bozzella turn a women's basketball program around at Iona.
Well those drifter's days are past me now
I've got so much more to think about
Deadlines and commitments
What to leave in, what to leave out
But in the past couple of years, things have changed.  In March of 2009,  I missed the CAA Tournament for the first time in several years due to my younger son's kidney surgery. Family commitment always comes first.  I was able to go back to this year's CAA Tournament. But this past year's NCAA Tournament, the Year of the Mid Major, was the ninth straight year where I was working during the first day of the NCAA Tournament (when I went to the 2008 Raleigh Regional, it was the Friday-Sunday regional and Tieff, Mal and  flew down to Raleigh Good Friday morning, when my office was closed for the holiday).

A few months ago I was hoping to go to the Puerto Rico Tipoff down in San Juan.  But besides the fact that my younger son's birthday was the day before the Tournament, something else was telling me not to go.  It would turn out that the past few months have been extremely busy at work, and I was about to lose two vital staff members of my department in the span of a month (along with my boss who left in September).  I truly have so many "deadlines and commitments" and there seems to be nothing I can "leave out".

So when the 24 Hours of Hoops on ESPN started at midnight this morning,  I wasn't that excited.  It wasn't because the games weren't compelling.  Part of me would have loved to stay up at 2:00 AM to watch St John's take on one of my favorite teams of recent years, St Mary's.  But that would have meant being up till 4:00 AM to watch the Gaels beat the Jonnies.  There were more pressing issues, like getting sleep and then later getting up early preparing my agenda for my 9:00 AM meeting and two interviews to replace my one open position in my department.

Outside of a few minutes of watching Stony Brook rally against Monmouth during breakfast, I didn't have time to watch any of the other games on the WWL marathon online on ESPN3 during the day (though I did check scores from time to time). When I got home tonight,  my friend Mal texted me that the Hokies were "playing well" against the Wildcats.  I turned on the TV in time to see Mal give Va Tech the "Marv Albert Curse of Death" as Kansas State rolled over them in the second half.

I had to go out and run errands this evening.  It's also my younger son's birthday tomorrow so I had to go get balloons for his party.  Then it was off to get dress pants for work and a haircut.  After I finally got home, I started writing this article while finally being able to watch some basketball.  Unfortunately it was Butler struggling and eventually losing against Louisville (don't worry Bulldogs fans, remember they struggled at the start of last season too).

As I wrote this, I only realize it is only going to get tougher as the years go.  My wife works Sundays now which makes going to Iona women's games or other local men's basketball games on Sundays much harder with two cute boys in tow.   And it's only a matter of time when they get old enough that I will be taking them to their own basketball games or other activities.  Their lives will become even more of my life, and I would want it no other way.  That means less time for live college basketball and less time for this blog.
"Against the wind
I'm still runnin' against the wind
I'm older now but still runnin' against the wind."
I am not complaining mind you.  In this economy,  I know that I am very fortunate to have a full time paying job when people I know quite well who have been out of a job for a while.  And I have been blessed with a wonderful wife and two cute kids who thankfully have their mom's looks.

And that exactly puts everything in perspective.  Compared to surviving, providing for your children and trying to save for their future is much more important than being able to regularly watch college basketball live or hell, even write about it.

As much as I love writing this blog, if the time comes due to greater priorities where I don't have the time or commitment to write this blog, it will end.  But I know there are many good writers whose work I read on a daily basis that will fill that void for me.  And I will still find the time for the occasional live game.

But until that time comes, this blog and this blog's main charge about seeing college basketball live and writing about it will continue.  Come Thursday evening, I will be once again at a live college basketball event.  A doubleheader at MSG for the 2K Classic, sharing it with my two good friends Mal and Tieff.   And you can be damn sure there will be an article about it the next day.

In 2007 I got to finally see Bob Seger live at MSG.   After a great main part of the concert, Seger started his encore with "Against the Wind".   The whole Garden crowd sang along as they did in the Kansas City video up above.  It seemed that all of Seger's fans truly understood the song's meaning after all these years and really cherish that song.  For like me, they all too have been running against the wind.  I think we all have.  That's how we roll, how we survive.

So keep running against the wind.  There really is no other way.

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