Sporting events are productions. Plumes of smoke, morsels of rainbow colored confetti, and pulsating choruses ensure the fans remain engaged in the action throughout the course of the game. Classics like Take Me Out to the Ball Game and The Star Spangled Banner have transcended every generation of American sports fans. For the NCAA it’s all about One Shining Moment. Originally written for the NFL, the song debuted on CBS 28 years ago. The football broadcast ran long and ended up chopping out the intended homage to the season. Executives later decided to re-purpose David Barrett’s work post the NCAA championship game between Syracuse, and tournament champion Indiana. Voila, a tradition was born!
The song is the foundation of a video montage reflecting the journey of 68 teams (64 for the women), over four weeks, between March and April. Those last few minutes of reflection are either induce pride, or melancholy for college basketball fans. I bleed Carolina blue and after this season I may need a transfusion.
It’s been a season marked by adversity for the North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball team and fans like me. The group of mostly second and third year players performed well enough (26-12) to end the season ranked in the top 25. UNC is blue chip program, one of the elite schools on the hardwood. By Tar Heel basketball standards a winning regular season record is the bare minimum- an achievement they struggled to make this year. Led by Jr. guard Marcus Paige, the Heels were frustratingly inconsistent, giving up leads late in far too many of their games.
Off the court, coach Roy Williams and his team spent their season defending against foe, after foe, after foe, after foe. As if the passing of legendary Carolina coach Dean Smith wasn’t enough cause for sadness, the pending NCAA decision regarding alleged academic infractions heavily weighed on the program.
All the more reason for me to put forth my best effort to see the team play in this year’s Sweet 16. They were scheduled to meet top seeded Wisconsin at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. I missed the chance to see them two years ago in Long Beach just after I gave birth to Nings. Given the possible post season ban, it could be a while before I would be in the same arena with the team I’d been following my entire life. All of that said, and it still almost didn’t happen. Ticket prices started at $130 for the nosebleed section. For a family of five, those prices were well out of our range. Philip sensed my disappointment and surprised me with a ticket-just for me. LOVE HIM!
I sat in the nosebleed section (seriously, just 10 rows from the wall on the top of the arena.) Surrounded by a sea of Wisconsin red, I settled into the realization that I crossed off an item on my bucket list. I must make mention of the class displayed by the Badger fans. *Fist bump* The Heels started the game strong and played with a level of toughness that they had only shown glimpses of throughout the regular season. Wisconsin ended up rallying late in the second half to earn the win. When junior, forward Brice Johnson was interviewed after the game he stated, “Little things hurt us at the end of the game.” Yep, and sadly the big things attached to the NCAA ruling may hurt as well.
This year when the images of the 2015 tournament roll across my television screen, I’ll be haunted by what could’ve been. I would have never predicted One Shining Moment to end up on a list of 5 sporting event songs that haunt me. Here’s my list though:
5. Jump Around by House of Pain– The Wisconsin Badgers’ theme song. If I never hear this song again it will be too soon.
4. We Will Rock You by Queen – OMG! This song reminds me of my high school cheerleading days. Mostly, I loved being a cheerleader, I just hated slapping out this beat on the wooden bleachers.
3. YMCA by The Village People-I can never smoothly make the transition between the C and the A. I’m the gal who gets nailed by the jumbotron looking confused and awkward.
2. Sweet Caroline by Neal Diamond– This song is a contender for the number one spot. Game 5 of the ALCS in which the Red Sox beat the Yankees to force a game six in the Bronx. The Sox ended up winning the ALCS and their first World Series in 84 years.
1. One Shining Moment– Nuff said.