For the lucky many, March Madness means hours and hours of blissful sitting in the comfort of upholstered furniture or, at least, bar stools, watching endless basketball on the blessed screen. For those of us living north of the Mason Dixon line, with kids who play “spring sports,” it means something else entirely. Here in the northern suburbs of Chicago, where climate change means today’s March temperature is almost twenty degrees below average, March Madness means sitting on freezing cold bleachers to watch a high school girls varsity soccer game get underway… as soon as they clear the snow off the field.
Let me be clear: as a soccer mom, I’ve joined the ranks of thousands of others who have stood on the side lines, watching their kids play sports, during weather that would ground airplanes. Really. At O’Hare, de-icing the wings is a common departure delay. At Wolter’s Field, which is the name of the Highland Park High School soccer field, ice delays nothing. Snow is a temporary set back. Rain is the norm. And lightning has to strike twice, or at least once in a very obvious way, before games are called.
It’s incredible to me that in the one short year since my older daughter graduated I have grown nostalgic for her water polo games. That’s right. I just put into print that I miss going to water polo games. Ever been to one? No one can follow the game. Even the players tend to be a little hazy on the rules of the game. But here’s the brilliance of the sport: for girls, it’s a spring sport. That means a natatorium, rank with chlorine, but beautifully warm and even down right muggy with humidity. Given the choice between watching girls in strange headgear splash and thrash in a pool for 28 minutes or watching girls on a frozen field run and kick for 80 minutes, I’ll take the warmth of the indoors every time.
The next time you hear the phrase March Madness and someone mentions college basketball, scoff. There’s nothing mad about watching the game on t.v. during this miserable month, so miscast as a member of Team Spring. But there’s complete insanity when it comes to watching all the other sports played outside, weeks before the trees leaf and the bulbs emerge.
That’s all I’m saying.