If you need a healthy dose of perspective on March Madness, I suggest you come over to my house to watch the games.
I’m a Xavier University alum, and have been a season ticket holder for decades. But in the midst of their furious comeback on Friday, I had to turn the TV off. Because the parish priest came over to administer anointing of the sick to my mother-in-law, who is battling terminal cancer. She’s been in a hospital bed in our living room for the past month. Forget “March Madness” – this is March Sadness.
I grew up in Arkansas and love the Razorbacks. Yesterday they too rallied in their tourney game, and managed to knock off #1 seeded Kansas.
But there’s nothing quite like administering liquid morphine during a commercial break to give you a better understanding of what really matters. “Survive and advance…”
Nothing I’ve seen on the TV screen can match the courage, the bravery, the tenacity, the heart, the strength that I’ve seen from my mother-in-law. Her outcome is no longer in doubt, but she’s already won.
Sports may be life, but it’s not life and death. The pain of losing pales in comparison to the pain of loss.
The Alabama Crimson Tide is the #1 overall seed in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. (I can’t call it March Madn3ss or I’d owe someone money.)
Alabama is led by their freshman phenom Brandon Miller. The same Brandon Miller who, on January 15th, delivered a gun to his then-teammate Darius Miles. Miles then gave the weapon to his friend Michael Lynn Davis, who then proceeded to get into a gun battle over a petty argument… and 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris, the mother of a 5-year-old son named Kaine, was shot and killed.
Actually Brandon Miller’s car was used to deliver the murder weapon. Allegedly, Brandon didn’t know the gun was in his car. Allegedly it was hidden in the back seat under some clothing. But his (now former) teammate texted him and said “I need my joint.” (For those who aren’t up to date on the latest slanguage, “joint” = “gun.”) And Brandon returned to where he had dropped off his teammate hours earlier.
Yes it’s completely possible that Brandon Miller didn’t know there was a gun in his vehicle — seems unlikely but sure let’s go with that– and yes it’s completely possible that Brandon Miller was already on his way to pick up his teammate when the text came through. That’s what his attorneys claim.
But the text said “I need my joint” not “Please swing by, I need the clothes that are in your back seat.” I’m no Perry Mason, but to me, the fact that Brandon’s teammate texted him that he needed his gun implies that Brandon knew the gun was in the vehicle.
Sidebar: where are we as a society today when young men who are going out for a night on the town:
actually own a gun and
decide that they need to bring it along when they’re going to a bar?
What we do know is that the University of Alabama administration knew of Brandon Miller’s involvement right from the get-go. It’s pretty hard to NOT know when Miller’s vehicle windshield had a couple bullet holes in it. Oh and there was another player from the team who was there as well… all this info didn’t come out until a February 21st hearing.
According to authorities, Brandon Miller is not a suspect… because if he didn’t know that he was supplying a gun … or even if he did know but he didn’t know that it would be used for something illegal (note: murder is illegal)… he’s off the hook.
Oh and by the way, did we mention that at Alabama’s next home game after Miller’s involvement was made public, one of his teammates gave him a mock “weapons pat down” during pregame introductions. Stay classy, ‘Bama!
Nate Oats is the Alabama head coach. His response has been tone deaf. At a press conference, he said Brandon was in the “wrong spot at the wrong time.” As many scribes have pointed out, actually, Jamea Harris was the one who was in the wrong spot at the wrong time. Oats also claimed that he was unaware of the pregame pat-down ritual… and that coaches can’t keep track of their players 24/7. Technically true, but I guarantee you most coaches know if a player misses a single mandatory study hall, and that players have been suspended for such minor infractions.
The University of Alabama administration’s response has been deafening silence. Yes, they kicked Darius Miles off the team. But Brandon Miller hasn’t missed a single practice or a single game. After all, he’s the star player on the #1 team in America — the team favored to win the NCAA tournament. When “win at all costs” meets “players’ actions cost a young woman her life” the entire administration has cast their vote for the former.
They call Alabama the Crimson Tide… and the Crimson Tide has blood on their hands.
Note: I drafted this post yesterday (I have the legal pad scribbles to prove it), and today when I went looking for facts to include in it, I found a Will Leitch column on New York magazine’s Intelligencer site that sums up my feelings much more eloquently and intelligently. The full column is here, and some choice excerpts are below.
My friends and I aren’t spring chickens anymore. And we’re at the age where our parents are at that age… the age of getting their “celestial discharge” as my wife called it when she worked at hospice. Their earthly journey is coming to an end. As a child, it’s never easy. And unfortunately, the final chapter is often quite sad, as we watch the people who raised us diminish in body and/or mind. But never in spirit… that lives on in each of us.
My buddy Tom Kuhl (a.k.a. The Kuhler, a.k.a. Freaky Tiki) recently lost his beloved mom. His Facebook post about her really captures the conflicting emotions many of us have as our parents approach their earthly finish line.
Well said, my brother from another mother! Love you!
When my friends lose a parent, I usually pass along a copy of one of my favorite short stories by my absolute favorite author, Ray Bradbury. The story is called “The Leave-Taking” and it’s about an elderly woman who is dying. And Ray — master writer that he is — managed to weave the sadness of death and the true joy of living and the blessings of family into a mere three-and-a-half pages. The full story is here, but this is the money quote:
Important thing is not the me that’s lying here, but the me that’s sitting on the edge of the bed looking back at me, and the me that’s downstairs cooking supper, or out in the garage under the car, or in the library reading. All the new parts, they count. I’m not really dying today. No person ever died that had a family. I’ll be around a long time.
It’s raining in Cincinnati today… our house must have a leak because I’m down in our basement and my eyes are all misty.
It’s funny ‘cuz it’s true. Nobody uses the “phone” part of “mobile phone” anymore. It’s really more of a mobile typewriter + mobile camera + mobile laptop + mobile video arcade + mobile television. And that’s fine, I suppose. I’m trying to avoid getting into Abe Simpson territory.
No one sends telegrams anymore either… time marches on, things change.
But after 3 years of a relatively sheltered existence, it’s OK to “reach out and touch someone” via phone.
The human voice is an amazing instrument – it can reach all the way to your soul, in a way that a text simply can’t.
P.S. The entire week of Bizarro comics is available via a weekly blog post – well worth subscribing to get the email.
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