One of the high holy days on the leisure calendar has arrived.
For those who observe Selection Sunday, today marks the start of the Spokane area’s favorite television miniseries – the NCAA basketball tournaments.
The sports section is all over the athletic story lines. But NCAA hoopla is about more than just the games. So here are a few other things to look for in the days and weeks to come.
68. Ranting sports talking heads who make political pundits seem modest and self-effacing.
67. Beer commercials that depict life as it is lived nowhere on this planet.
66. Some hilariously bad living-room high fives.
65. The pervasive willingness of people to pass off as original insights things they heard on ESPN or read in the paper.
64. People maintaining a straight face while describing a school’s basketball record as its “body of work,” an expression formerly employed in allusions to artistic achievement or scientific research.
63. Crossing your fingers and muttering “Please, please, please…” on behalf of a likable underdog you started rooting for 90 seconds ago.
62. The intriguing tables-turning implications of the rest of the nation exercising its right to cheer for bottom-seed cannon fodder teams.
61. Spokane fans, perhaps forgetting a time when people elsewhere had not heard of a certain church school, derisively asking “Who the heck is Belmont?”
60. People saying they aren’t going to get caught up in it this year and then boom — “Omigod! Did you see that block?”
59. The fact that the games are not decided by lobbying or lawsuits.
58. The annual geography lesson. “Remind me. Where is Iona located?”
57. The viewer who covers his eyes during crucial free throws.
56. People screaming about buzzer-beater upsets involving teams they barely knew existed.
55. The boss who issues a productivity lecture and then retreats to his office where he’s tracking four games on his computer.
54. The guy from accounts receivable who is certain he knows better than Mark Few about managing substitutions.
53. Shut-ins becoming engrossed in the competition.
52. “On the bubble.” What if your sixth-favorite team doesn’t get in? “Oh, the humanity!”
51. Scoffers. “Brackets? I don’t need no stinkin’ brackets.”
50. Tortured “Cinderella” references.
49. The twit who demands silence from everyone in the room during crucial free throws.
48. The person at your workplace who spends much of March watching basketball at the office, boldly unafraid of demonstrating just how easy it would be to do without him during the other 11 months, too.
47. Mr. “Told you so” waiting for GU to falter.
46. People rooting against teams representing their ex’s alma mater, home state or whatever.
45. The intoxicating inclusiveness of virtually the whole country being in on it.
44. You will be shocked – shocked! – to discover that there is gambling going on.
43. Wide-eyed TV features on a player who heroically went to class now and then.
42. Otherwise sane people apparently expecting you to listen to them talk about their brackets for a seemingly geologic period of time.
41. The office pool czar drunk with power.
40. Viewers who know less than a backyard squirrel about basketball rules leaning toward the TV screen and yelling at referees.
39. Closet Zags haters waiting for their opportunity to come out.
38. Being glad you aren’t actually at the game because you can go to the kitchen or bathroom during any of the countless commercial breaks.
37. Getting to see TV-watching fans’ characters revealed when things don’t go well for their teams.
36. The obligatory, “Now if we could only get this many people to care about transportation policy and tax reform.”
35. A nonfan asking, “What’s a three ball?”
34. A fellow viewer watching an apoplectic coach and saying, “That guy is going to have a stroke.”
33. People who normally don’t have much to say to each other getting to make congenial small talk about some kid with neck tattoos “draining a three” the night before.
32. “Never mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden
31. Critiquing mascots. “Is that a gerbil costume?”
30. Informing the latest Don Imus sound-alike that his commentary is unwelcome.
29. Saying, “Is being tired of truck commercials an example of a first-world problem?”
28. Washing your hands in a workplace restroom and being asked by someone occupying a stall if you want a tip on an upset special.
27. Someone inquiring, “What’s ‘The paint,’?”
26. Discussions about God’s level of interest in the proceedings.
25. Debates about the relevance of cheerleaders and pep bands.
24. An amateur analyst explaining the March phenomenon by whispering, “Follow the money.”
23. Spokane residents calling local media to complain about the televised games interfering with their regular shows.
22. Deciding which teams you like/don’t like on the basis of their reactions to hearing their schools’ names called during this afternoon’s selection show.
21. Hoping to not see one of your college-age children in a TV close-up focusing on boorish fans.
20. If a GU game is on at the same time as the local TV news, you get to check the two stations not showing the game to see what magical thinking the counter-programming news directors have come up with this year.
19. Hearing why your friends like/don’t like certain broadcast tandems. “This guy always says ‘They need to start hitting some shots’ as if that is a trenchant observation.”
18. People going from virtual indifference to “The players seem like pretty good kids” to arms thrust into the air to salute a big basket.
17. Waiting for a full, frank admission from the guy who sells you coffee that he, personally, had little to do with a certain team’s success this season.
16. People about whom you already have reservations shouting things like “Boo-yeah!” and “Blah blah blah, bay-bee!”
15. The welcome presence of individuals who sincerely believe it’s all about the game-time snacks.
14. Getting to salute those who were loyal GU fans before there was a bandwagon.
13. Anticipating being reminded yet again that John Blanchette gets up for big games, too.
12. The vast majority of postgame handshakes/hugs are listless and perfunctory. But once in a while, you see one that clearly is heartfelt. It can make you optimistic about young people and the future.
11. Overcoming your initial “Good grief, get a life” reaction to the sometimes obsessively serious selections broadcast and remembering to have fun with the whole thing.
10. You might know someone whose alma mater gets paired against GU.
9. “Wasn’t ‘Deep Run’ a ’70s porn flick set in space?”
8. Listening to TV bobbleheads lavish effusive praise on overpaid coaches who, if statistics and history are any guide, are not all great humanitarians.
7. Listening to a friend explain how he or she has decided not to contemplate the psychological profile of one who basks in reflected glory.
6. Handing out technical fouls at home when certain viewers forget that everyone makes mistakes and a missed free throw or errant pass doesn’t make a kid a piece of excrement.
5. The Top 10 reasons more than a few people prefer the women’s tournament.
4. The fact that, even if it turns into a foulfest at the end or goes to overtime, a college basketball game doesn’t last as long as a football game.
3. The hope reset that comes with each new game.
2. Those hold-your-breath moments when the shot is in the air and time is about to expire.
1. The possibility that something is about to happen that you will always remember.