Jakarta Madness

As March Madness consumes the nation back home, in Jakarta you would never even know that something so huge is happening on the other side of the Pacific.  Back home every news program or website has covered at least one story discussing the loss of money, labor and productivity in the first 4 days of the tournament by employees calling into work or streaming games on their laptop, tablet or smartphone.  This year CBS even took it a step further by installing a Boss Button on their streaming page that allows you to be even more confident as you try and avoid being caught by your supervisor.  March Madness has become a tradition with everyone from the most die-hard to the casual fan getting caught up in some aspect of the spectacle.  I recently saw an ESPN poll that asked if March Madness was the most popular post season of any sport and while only one or two may rival it, the NFL comes to mind and I am keeping my fingers crossed for the new college football playoffs, I believe it’s easy, and fun, for anyone across the U.S. to get caught up in the Madness!

Great article about where the term March Madness came from

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2014/03/march-get-mad-story-behind-ncaa-basketball-tournament/

As I look around my office on the first day of the second round, I am certain that I am the only one that has wasted work time watching Louisville pull out a close win over Manhattan and New Mexico State almost being the second New Mexico team (UNM 2014 MWC tourney Champs!) to ruin San Diego State’s March.  Now one thing to keep in mind is that basketball is very popular here, actually probably the 3rd most popular sport besides soccer and badminton.  Every primary and secondary school campus I visit has at least one if not multiple basketball courts.  In every mall sports store the basketball section is second only to soccer.  Indonesia even has its own professional basketball league, http://www.nblindonesia.com/v1/index.php, that was started back in 2008 but as far as I can tell there is not any kind of organized national collegiate sports program.  So there may be many factors as to why March Madness has not invaded Indonesia but nothing is going to stop me from going crazy these next few weeks.

I am not sure if it is so smart of me to admit on the world wide web that I spent my Friday morning (Thursday night in the US) streaming games on my work laptop, but it’s what I have done since I started working and since I’m being honest here, I didn’t even consider not doing it.  Let’s not also forget about the hours spent on doing research about teams, reviewing championship week results, injury reports, and looking at the expert’s brackets before I made my own carefully calculated picks in not one but 4 brackets. This year’s brackets are not only allowing me to try my luck at a billion dollars with my best friend, but they are helping me to reconnect and trash talk with my fraternity brothers,  and wallow in sadness and disappointment with my fellow New Mexico Lobo fans as yet again our team gets upset in the first round. Yes this month allows me to reach the epitome of my emotional depth as I begin every tournament naively optimistic and positive only to be experience the spectrum of utopian Bliss (pun intended, Lobo fans will get it) all the way to the torment of heartbreak as yet another season comes to an always too soon disappointing end.  Yes I can freely admit that no woman has ever broken my heart the way the Lobos do, but I will never stray from the pack as I know that one day I will witness my team dance with Cinderella as they ascend to the Final Four.

Speaking of hearts I can’t forget my entry into the pool my wife put together for our friends and family. Yes you read correctly, March Madness is one of  the few times of year where me and my wife can bond and grow a little closer as we square off to see who is the bigger sports fan of the family.  Sadly she usually wins those battles, but if anyone ever had any doubt about why I married my wife you only have to come and spend an afternoon or evening at the Salas house as we watch OU Sooners football and you will be able to experience not only my wife’s passion for sports, but her many talents and skills in the kitchen. Yes with her by my side I will never be a skinny man, and I will never tire of our countless conversations before bed including a recent one over the negative impact the NBA’s one and done rule is having not only on college basketball as a whole but the long term negative effect it will have on so many promising young athletes.  I believe the Madness is about so much more than basketball for most people and for me it has definitely become a family affair!

Lobo Boys

The Salas boys ready to cheer on the Lobos

So as the first weekend of the tournament comes to a close and the next round approaches I am left here to pick up the pieces of what has once again become my annual sure to be busted in the first weekend bracket.  I admit I may love Cinderella too much which means too many picks are made with my heart and not my brain, but it was great to watch Stephen F. Austin, Mercer, Dayton and others slay Goliath and so many people’s brackets and billion dollar dreams.  Wichita State’s miracle season came to a bitter end, but there is still so many games to be watched, so much pandemonium to experience, so many raw emotions spilling out over arenas, bars, living rooms and yes workplaces everywhere as we all anticipate the climatic one shining moment.

I cry almost every time I hear that song at the end of the championship game.  It started in middle school as I dreamed of one day playing in the big dance.  I connected with the agony and triumph that we witnessed in every highlight concluding with the tears of sadness from the runner up and the tears of joy as the winners put on their championship t-shirts and held up the trophy.  March Madness encompasses everything that is good about sports.  It reminds us of the importance of teamwork, respect, hard work, dedication and commitment.  People may argue about the amateurism of college sports but we all know that 95% of the players in the tournament will end their athletic careers in college and work in the real world with us.  This tournament allows those not good enough for the pro level to, for at least one moment in their life, be the hero.  It shows all fans that anyone can be a hero if even just for one day or moment.

These days I cry because I understand that special moments only come around a few times in your life and I am happy for the experiences these young men get to have.  I cry in anticipation of the special moments I hope that my sons will get in their lives and the memories that will stay with them forever.  Now I dream of one day getting the opportunity to sit in the crowd with my wife and watch my kid’s one shining moment. I don’t care if it’s in a college arena during March Madness, a performance hall during a winter recital, at a baseball tournament or debate tournament, I just can’t wait to cheer them on in their greatest victories and support them even more in their greatest defeats.  This is what March Madness is for me and this is why I think it is the greatest sporting event every year.

Check out Dominic in his first Choir performance with the Houser Elementary and Oak Ridge High School choirs

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNKKRXHZBoI

And Jordan during his first at bat of the NW45 baseball season

Jordan baseball

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