First, a disclaimer: It's not about pastry. (Sorry.)
I spent a good chunk of the weekend caught up in March Madness, college basketball's championship tournament. I'm not a big fan of basketball, although I will admit a fondness for Eugene's home team, the University of Oregon Ducks. The Ducks didn't earn a spot in the tourney this year, but still, all the hype left me hungry for a little bit more. And so a weekend planned around the tube. And a friend inquiring—oh so inevitably—about which team I'd be rooting for.
Uh, good question, that. Because this wasn't about sports. If it were, I could sit back and enjoy the geometric artistry of the game. Or fill a notebook with statistics. Or appreciate the easy excuse to snarf pizza all weekend long. No, I needed an investment, some personal connection to a team. And so I set about deciding who would have my loyalty for the weekend. And if that team lost, which runner-up and perhaps runner-up after that would get my cheers.
Well, Kansas was out. I may be an average fan, but I can hold a grudge with the best of them, and I still haven't forgiven the Jayhawks for battering the Ducks back in 2002. South Carolina? C'mon, a team named the Gamecocks? No way. Likewise, Duke and its Blue Devil; I might have been swayed by a Johnny Depp interpretation, but this scrawny Smurf version leaves me uninspired.
I have my biases. Kentucky's a beautiful state, despite all the bad press it receives. Although I do feel compelled to deduct a few points for its lack of recycling laws. A team from Waco, Texas, carries a load of community baggage; could it benefit from a few extra rah-rahs from me? And what to make of a school that's hogging the brackets with both men's and women's teams in the hunt? Should deductions be made if the women are diminished, bearing Lady in front of their name?
I thought "arbitrary" would be easy. Just pick a team and go from there. But as it turns out, every choice is embedded with shrapnel from the past or some rough diamonds of the present. It leads me to consider that there aren't many choices we make that don't have layers of thought behind them. That's something I'm going to have to think about.
And what team did I pick? One of the ones that lost. So now it's Rock chalk, Jayhawk! all the way to the Final Four. Apparently, I have a little forgiveness in me after all.
Now I'm off to find a kiwi-strawberry custard tart, who knows why.