Sunday, March 13, 2011

Right or Wrong?

Is there something inappropriate about watching basketball games when on the other side of the world an earthquake has caused devastation?

Yesterday, I watched several games many of which affected the entire seasons for the teams playing. The NCAA begins its tournament on Tuesday and makes decisions today about who will be invited. In at least three conference championship games I saw yesterday, the winner would, automatically, be invited to the tournament and the loser would very likely be disqualified. In addition, two other games that I watched went down to the very end with a player making a key shot at the buzzer to assure a team of advancing to the tournament.

I was working out last night on the elliptical machine watching Kent State play Akron--two rivals a mere 14 miles apart. The winner would go to the tournament and the loser go home. Adjacent to me was another exercise crony watching Arizona play Washington for the PAC 10 championship. That game, like the Kent State game, would go into overtime and be decided by a last shot in OT. At the same time we were watching the game we could see on another channel the devastating effects of the earthquake in Japan.

In the morning I had watched Stony Brook lead Boston University the entire game, until the last seconds when a bogus call on Stony Brook put the main stud for Boston University at the foul line. He hit both shots with 2.4 seconds left and a last second heave by Stony Brook just missed at the buzzer. The fans mobbed the players on the court.

On Saturday afternoon, Princeton and Harvard were playing on a neutral court to decide the winner of the Ivy League and who would be invited to the tournament. In the last two minutes the lead changed hands a number of times. Finally, Harvard went ahead with seconds to go only to have a Princeton player hit a shot as the buzzer sounded. Wild Tigers raced onto the court to smother the victorious players as the Harvard Crimson walked off stunned.

Earlier on Saturday, North Carolina was getting whupped by Clemson, only to tie the game at the buzzer and go on to win in overtime to the joy of the fans. On Saturday night Connecticut won its fifth game in five days to win the Big East--a feat that is truly remarkable given the level of competition and the fatigue that would have exhausted mortals. In post game interviews, satisfaction oozed from the remarks and the face of the winning coach and star player.

On Friday night, I witnessed something I have not seen previously in years of watching games. In its contest against Florida State, Virginia Tech scored a basket to go ahead with seconds remaining. State raced down the court and hit the game winner at the buzzer. The State players were mobbed and the Virginia Tech coach and its players were astonished--until the officials went to the scorer's table and looked at a replay of the shot. It sure seemed to me that the State shot got off before the buzzer, but when I and the officials saw the replay, the ball was still on the shooter's fingertips when the clock went from .1 to 0.0. The officials waved off the State shot, triggering wild jubilation on the seconds earlier depressed Virginia Tech side. At the same time the cheering Florida State team deflated like a ballon with a sudden leak.

Yet this morning, and during the day yesterday, I kept seeing images and reading about what is happening in Japan. And these seemed to render inconsequential the "do or die" jump or foul shots that were thrilling spectators throughout the country.

Is there something wrong with jumping for joy on a day when thousands have died tragically and an entire country is in danger?

I think you do what you can do. Concern and support is deserved for tragic circumstances and victims. And the thrill of victory should never be confused with the thrill of life and love. Yet, there is nothing wrong about celebrating life when we are fortunate enough to have it.

1 comment:

  1. About college basketball, there have been several great games over the past week, and the action will definitely intensify at the NCAA Tournament. I can't wait until the brackets are unveiled!

    As for Japan, the damage and destruction from the earthquake and tsunami there looks massive from the images I’ve seen on television and the Internet! I hope the United States and other countries make substantial contributions to the relief efforts there.