One Saving Moment
April 2, 2013New Franklin R-1 High School
By: Adam Harris
March is the only time Cinderella’s slipper can fit more than one team. However, only one of sixty-eight can have a fairy tale ending. “March Madness” is one of my favorite events of the entire year. It’s the only time of the year when my favorite college sport is alone in the spotlight. The madness, frustration, and pure excitement that I feel each March makes me want to become associated with the sport even more. For the next few weeks, my eyes will be glued to the television every possible second. I’m going to take advantage of the DIRECTV that was installed in the school just before Christmas, and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it. My craze is at its peak when the Missouri Tigers, my favorite team, takes the floor.
“How can your favorite college basketball team be Missouri? They haven’t ever made a Final Four. There are many other teams that have much more success.”
Above is the typical question that I can see any number of people asking me. Although the fact that Missouri has never reached a Final Four lingers in my mind, it doesn’t phase my passion for the basketball team. No, I don’t watch Missouri only because both of my parents are alumni; although, that’s what got me interested. Yes, I love Missouri Basketball for the energy I feel while watching their games, but that hardly is the tip of the iceberg. I owe Missouri Basketball.
When I was two years old, my mom and dad say that I could name the players on the Missouri basketball team. I would watch with as much intent as they would. One evening, I had been under the weather, and I refused to watch the Missouri game. For most two year olds, not wanting to watch a basketball game would be considered ordinary, but Mom knew something wasn’t right. Moments later, I had a febrile seizure. My mom hurried to dial 9-1-1 and called the family doctor. Luckily, the doctor got to our home before the paramedics and I was well enough to stay at home. If it hadn’t been for my mother knowing something was wrong when I refused to watch the Missouri game, I may not have been as fortunate.
From there, my obsession with Missouri Basketball grew even more. As a kindergartener, Mrs. Nordmeyer, my music teacher, had me rattle off the Missouri starting lineup to Mr. Triebsch, the P.E. teacher. When Missouri played its opening round game of the 2002 NCAA Tournament during the day, Mrs. Nordmeyer let me listen to a few minutes of the game on the radio.
“I have to stay up late tonight. Missouri doesn’t play until nine.”
I distinctly remember saying those words to Mrs. Seelinger, my kindergarten teacher, during her class’ calendar time. She was telling all of the students to get to bed early in order to prepare for the SAT-9 Standardized Test. The testing was going to take place in the middle of Missouri’s improbable Elite Eight run in the 2002 NCAA tournament. There was no way I could miss one of Missouri’s most important games in my lifetime.
My first game I remember watching at the Hearnes Center was a memorable one. At first I happened to be more fascinated with the crazy, yet stylish hair of Wesley Stokes, and I marvelled at saying the names Kareem Rush and Clarence Gilbert. I was able to stay focused for four overtimes as the Tigers knocked off Iowa State by the score 112-109.
As the Tigers were there for me, I was there when the program was at the lowest of lows. I witnessed the the very first loss at Paige Arena. That Tiger team was as successful as the name of its new home. In 2009, I was there for the six remaining scholarship players who dressed out for the basketball team after five players were suspended due to involvement in a bar fight. That group may have lost the game they played, but I was proud of the way they battled.
One evening just a few weeks ago, I was watching a random college basketball game on ESPN. The outcome of the game meant nothing to me, but that didn’t stop me from wanting to watch as much basketball as I could. My dad, only a fan of the black and gold, would rather watch a movie or something on the DIY Network. He asked me the same question he has asked since I was eight years old.
Dad: “Why are you watching a game that doesn’t mean anything?”
Me: “It means something to me.”
Missouri Basketball has helped me grow up. I used to sob after heartbreaking losses that I couldn’t control. I lost it after every one of those games, no matter how good the other team was. My emotions make me feel like I am a part of the team. Even the loss to Norfolk State in the 2012 NCAA Tournament brought a tear to my eye, because I knew I would never see storied players Marcus Denmon and Kim English play in a Tiger uniform again. I give credit to Missouri for increasing my love of basketball. I have gone from blaming officials and watching games for dunks to enjoying the X’s and O’s, flow, and philosophy of basketball. Missouri Basketball still inspires me to learn even more about the game.
Missouri Basketball has given me something to fall back on. After the worst days, I can look ahead to the evening, knowing that I can see the Tigers play or watch another classic on ESPN. When the basketball team needs fans the most, I’ll be be there just as a billowy cushion supports a fall. As Mizzou suits up in “March Madness,” I’ll be watching with the passion and belief they need. How couldn’t I do that for the team? Mizzou Basketball saved my life.