It’s March tournament time again. I watched KU and/or K-State in the NCAA basketball tournament (even NIT) every year since the early to mid-1970’s with my dad. As I got older, into my 20’s and 30’s, same thing, even if only one or two games, depending on my schedule and activities—my dad was always available though.
When I was a young child it was so much fun playing basketball in the backyard with my dad and showing him my latest shots and moves. He finally put up the basketball goal when I was seven-years-old, so I’d quit shooting my basketball in the driveway into our trash can, with the new garage door as a backboard; and to my frequent pleading, when I was 10 he installed the square concrete court, which was momentous for me! With his encouragement and teaching, I played competitive basketball regularly, and into my late 30′s.
I spent far more quality time over the years though watching the “big games” on TV with my dad, and as I got older I grew to appreciate this experience even more. After KU came into more recent national prominence in 1985 and after their 1988 national championship, more was increasingly expected of them each year; and my dad always reflected that in his comments when they’d play bad or lose, also reflecting his justified expectations of me in life in some way, I think.
Ten years ago at this time, we were watching again, as KU was making its tournament run, rocky at times, and getting eliminated in the Big 12 tournament semifinals, but they would recover. We watched on TV in a comfortable room in the hospice. My dad missed KU’s NCAA tournament march to the title game against Syracuse though, passing away March 9, 2003; I think he would’ve been proud, and at how they played in the loss. I didn’t watch any of the subsequent NCAA tourney games, only the championship game by myself.
I don’t play my beloved basketball anymore, and have moved on to other interests and passions, but still watch all the big games. I’m sure every so often there’s an angel or two sent down in my father’s name to help console the losses and celebrate the victories…on the court of life.
Check out a couple of books we have here at the library that deal with parents, kids, and how to make sports fun and enriching for children: