Disappointment. Hopeless disappointment.
That is really the only feeling I have right now. Do I think the NCAA made the wrong decision? Not really. The COVID-19 crisis that is gripping the country is only going to get worse before it gets better. This is our lives now, whether or not we are ready to confront that fact. Postponing something the size of the NCAA Tournament in a way that is authentic to the experience of the fans and the players is just impossible. And considering there is no timeline on the current disruption of our lives, what is the answer? There isn’t one.
Sports are always supposed to be the escape. Right now, sports was the escape, and as a fan, it hurts. Thinking beyond a fan, it pains me to think about all of the players, coaches, team managers, SIDs, media people, anyone and everyone who raised a finger to put this Gonzaga Bulldogs team on the television and into our minds and hearts twice a week.
Senior point guard Ryan Woolridge, who arrived at Gonzaga as a graduate transfer, summed up the disappointment perfectly.
So you telling me I transferred to not play in the tournament— Ryan Woolridge (@_CallMeSmoove) March 12, 2020
It kills me that the Zags’ seniors Admon Gilder, Woolridge, and Killian Tillie all had their collegiate careers end in a news release. It kills me that one of the best and brightest Gonzaga women’s squads cannot win two more NCAA games in front of the home fans. It kills me that the Spokane faithful, the ever-loyal crowd, does not get the opportunity to watch the No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs begin their deep run into the NCAA Tournament.
Each and every year, I live for March Madness. I do brackets. I consume an unhealthy amount of college basketball. I tweet too much. For a very short period, I can drown out all of life’s other bullshits and absolutely revel (and sometimes die) at what transpires on the court. The idea of not having that this year, well, it is a weird feeling, and one I haven’t come to grips with yet.
I personally refuse to engage in the “what ifs.” It is something I try not to do throughout my life because I find that generally answering that question usually makes you more sad than it makes you happy. This was a talented, albeit flawed, Gonzaga squad. But their potential was tantalizing. This could have been the year to win it all. This also could have been the year to only make it to the Sweet 16. There is a thrill to that level of chaos.
Normally, this blog churns out a ton of content in the month of March that every year has ended in me writing some sort of thank you for everything following a loss in the tournament. Now it doesn’t feel right. It feels too early. I’m not ready to quit watching basketball and I’m not ready to quit writing about basketball.
So stay tuned. Even if it means we do game threads on old NCAA Tournament games, I think we can find something to bring a bit of normalcy to our world when it is so desperately needed. Stay safe, take care, buy alcohol-based sanitizers, and don’t cough on anyone.