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Comfortable Distress

The definition of distress (yes, I looked it up to make sure!) is extreme anxiety, sorrow or pain. If you are me, distress means March Madness.


I use the term – “comfortable distress” – because I am comfortable with March Madness, but it causes me to be distressed for most of the month.


The reasons for my distress are too numerous to count, but I will try to let you into my brain for a bit – but trust me – it’s not a place you want to stay for long.


I am from Kentucky. My family is one of the rare few that will root for any Kentucky team that is playing. It is very hard for us to pick a side between Kentucky teams when they are playing each other. We definitely prefer the Kentucky Wildcats unless there is something about the other team that makes us feel like they should win. Think of the movie “Glory Road.


It is very rare for a Kentucky team…or UK…not to make it to the NCAA Tournament, also known as the “Big Dance” (thanks to former Marquette basketball coach Al McGuire). I include this because I had no idea where that term came from, but McGuire explained to a reporter in a 1977 interview that “you gotta wear the blue blazer when you go to the big dance.” He wore it that year and Marquette won the championship, so, the term “the big dance” stuck.


The Kentucky Wildcats usually end up dancing. This year is no different. In fact, they are a number two seed. They could end up in New Orleans for the final four and maybe even in the championship game. I am actually writing this three days before the first game. I become distressed just writing that sentence.


Lots of folks know I freaking love college basketball. A lot of these same folks do bracket challenges for the tournament. It is not unusual for these folks to reach out to me to join their challenge and fill out a bracket. This makes me insane. I can’t do a bracket. I want to…but I can’t. If I do a bracket, Kentucky always wins. It doesn’t matter. I won’t even change that outcome if I believe they might not make it…It doesn’t matter. I cannot put another team in that final game. I am really surprised I don’t do a bracket and put Kentucky as the only team in the final game. It could happen, couldn’t it? Well, in my mind it could.


I am comfortable in March because I believe UK makes it to the dance. I am comfortable until day one of the tournament. Then distress sets in because anything could happen. Even though my sub conscious doesn’t believe this…anyone can win once the tournament starts. There are no sure things.


There’s another big point of stress in my March Madness experience. I work in TV and work the tournament in a control room full of people who aren’t necessarily Kentucky fans. When Kentucky is playing, let’s just say I definitely have a very colorful adult vocabulary (in other words, cuss like a sailor). I feel like I should stuff a towel in my mouth so I can keep quiet. I said feel like…not that I would actually ever do it.


So, it’s tournament time. If Kentucky loses, please give me a minute or two – hell, who am I kidding – give me a month or two. Please don’t hate if you aren’t a Kentucky fan. If you have a favorite college team, you get what I mean.


Good luck to everyone’s team! Let the comfortable distress begin!! #goBBN #coachcal


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