Monday, March 13, 2006

March Madness Fever

"Sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence." ~ George F. Will

When my second son was applying for admission to college, the admissions advisor searched the school computer's database and found my name. Apparently, I had garnered enough credits in my short time at Wichita State University back in the early 70's to actually be considered an alumnus.

Unlike 3 out of my 5 siblings, I didn't earn a full academic scholarship to attend college, so I went to school on a combination of my money and my parents money, which soon ran out and I had to drop out. Additionally, I admit, I was more interested in other pursuits to get much out of college anyway.

So, when my son called me and told me I was an alumnus of Wichita State, I was surprised. Since then, I have paid a little more attention to their sports teams. The one's they have left, anyway. They scuttled the football program in the 70's. It never really got back on it's feet after the tragic team plane crash in 1970, which took the lives of almost all of the first team plus the head coach and coaching staff.

One of the players who died was a high school acquaintance of mine, Steve Moore, linebacker. He was a Senior when I was a sophomore, so I didn't know him real well, but he treated me decently when we were in the same P.E. Class. He had plans to go into the ministry after college.

Anyway, I noted, yesterday that my college basketball team had made the NCAA national tournament this year. They are seeded 7th in the Washington DC bracket. The first game will be Thursday, against Seton Hall.

Don't count the Shockers out yet. They had a very good season, and finished first in the Missouri Valley Conference, although they lost the Conference Championship game. Their record is 24-8. That's pretty good. Cincinnati (19-12) is whining that they didn't get a berth in the tournament and the sports writers are all saying they were shafted, but they have losses in double figures!

Incidentally, the name "Shockers" is short for "Wheatshockers". Those are the hourglass shaped bundles of wheat that are often seen at wheat harvest time in Kansas. Hence the stalks of wheat in the WSU logo. It has nothing to do with electricity, but if they advance past the first round, watch the news media refer to their name when talking about their "upset" win.

By the way, has anyone noticed how good headline writers are at making puns? Sports writers are the best at that.

Me in my Wichita State Shocker ball cap

Wichita State's baseball team is always very good. Over the weekend they were ranked 20th in the nation in some rankings, and their record is better than most of the teams ranked higher, currently 17-2. It is difficult for Wichita State's teams to get noticed by some national publications for some reason. USA todays' rankings don't even have them in the top 25.

They have played in the College World Series many times since 1976, and played in the National Championship game several times, actually winning the National Championship in 1989. They have also produced many first team all-Americans, including MLB World Series MVP Joe Carter, who was a first team All-American three years in a row.

OK. So I never graduated. I can still be proud of my College. After all, I am an alumnus.


Francis Lynn said...

Ack! Seton Hall is 5 miles from me. One of my fav teams. I wonder who I'll be rooting for? Hmm..Wichita...Seton...Wichita... Seton. Seems life has brought us together, Mark, for a brief moment in time. lol

Mark said...

LOL...Danged Seton Hall. When I'm driving home from PA at night and trying to listen to Mark Levin and Laura Ingraham on WABC, Seton Hall frequently pe-empts programming for one if their silly games.

Go Shocks!

Etchen said...

NOw that's one handsome alumnus! ;-)

Mark said...

Oh, Etchen! You are such a tease.