For the first time in March Madness history, no #1 seed will make it to the Final Four. Or heck, even the Elite 8.
Instead, for those and other highly-seeded teams, there is only disappointment. Fans, coaches and players have run into the plate-glass reality that their season is done. So how long does the disappointment of losing in March Madness last? Is is gone that same day or does it linger like a bad hangover?
“Recovering” a UCLA fan texted to me after I asked him how he felt the morning after the night before when his Bruins came tantalizing close to advancing to the Elite 8. I would probably get the same answer after a week. Even a month.
Sports fans have memories like elephants. He is still bitter about losing to the same school, Gonzaga, a few years earlier on a desperation heave at the buzzer in the Final Four.
As for me, it will take some time to get over my alma mater, a football school, having the best basketball team in school history and the overall #1 seed not making it out of the 2023 Sweet 16. Alabama has a rich basketball tradition of losing in that round for some reason. I still vividly remember a guard, Jim Farmar, dribbling the ball off his knee on a breakaway layup that would have sealed a win in the Sweet 16 some 20 years ago. Bama lost that game. And now, even with a generational player and a roster loaded with talent, Alabama again lost in the Sweet 16.
Quick side story. A few years after Farmar’s fumble, I ran into him at a Manhattan Beach bar. He had made an NBA team and walked in with a few teammates. Farmar knew me because I had worked at the newspaper in his hometown of Dothan, AL. So I went up to say hi, but he blew past me like he had a plane to catch. For being such a jerk I almost brought up his dribble-off-the-knee incident to his teammates but figured he was not worth my time. Years later I remember his March Madness gaffe.
This is because devastating losses last forever. They don’t ever go away. The memory lingers like the girl that got away; you never forget it. And it’s not just in March Madness, it’s in all sports. The only thing that can soften the blow is to win a championship. And even that doesn’t erase memories of bitter losses.
Want to make a Boston Red Sox fan turn green? Mention the name Bucky Dent. Or Bill Buckner. Say Scott Bartman to a Cubs fans. Even tho those teams ended decades of disappointment by finally winning the World Series, fans forever remember their team’s most famous frustrations.
Mention “Super Bowl” to a Buffalo Bills or Minnesota Vikings fan,”The Catch” to a Dallas Cowboys fan or “The Drive” to a Cleveland Browns fan. Wide Right – or Wide Left – to a Florida State fan. Same result.
Some fans should be used to it. Purdue and Arizona in March Madness, for example. The Cowboys in the playoffs. But for us fans of teams used to winning championships, disappointing losses never do disappear.
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