College basketball begins today. It promises to be even more challenging than college football and the hectic, borderline chaotic way in which teams have tried to make it to the starting line portends uncertainty for the finish line. But nevertheless, games will tip with the best, most optimistic intentions.
Many of you may not know that the band Nine Days had a second song that appeared immediately after Absolutely (Story of a Girl) on 2002's The Maddening Crowd. It's called If I Am, and in it, lead singer Brian Desveaux posits that one "should never let the sun set on tomorrow before the sun rises today."
Wise words. And words reflected by some of college basketball's most important media figures. CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, for example, published these 140 seconds of hope.
Rothstein makes many claims. Some of them can be easily dismissed, like the idea that every day with college basketball will be better than any day since March 12. With deaths skyrocketing and the economic crisis getting worse as a long winter sets in, it's tough to truly believe that people will be spiritually buoyed by St. Bonaventure or Pacific or Murray State's latest contest.
Others will take time to assess, including the most important one: that there will be an NCAA Tournament in 2021. It's a claim backed to the hilt by those in high places.
Here's David Worlock, the NCAA's director of media coordination, setting expectations.
Now, to be fair, Worlock only says we'll reach our destination. To me, that means crowning a champion in a reasonable facsimile of March Madness sometimes around March or April. If you got on a plane to New York City and it landed in Harrisburg due to inclement weather, it would be a destination but people on the plane wouldn't agree that it was their destination.
And here's hoping against hope that we get where we want to go, bumps in the road and detours notwithstanding. Not having an NCAA Tournament for two straight years would be gutting and devastating and a cruel fate. It's depressing to even squint and see such a possibility on the event horizon.
But dammit, it's there. So much could go wrong. This train is barely on the tracks and could veer off in expected and unexpected directions at any point.
Deep breaths. Nothing in life is certain and the best-laid plans haven't been realized for almost a year. Bless those who feel some twinge of certain confidence. I'd love to take some of whatever they're taking.