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My March Madness
I’ll take out the trash in April.

Mr. Moore is president of the Club for Growth
March 13, 2001 10:00 p.m.

 

arch is a month that puts a severe strain on my marriage. Always has. I mean, I do love my wife, but probably not as

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much as college basketball and March Madness.

Over the next three weeks I'll watch almost every one of the 63 games — from the first tip-off at noon on Thursday through the closing credits of the championship game played to the tune of "One Shining Moment." The ultimate high in life is when there are four NCAA games going on simultaneously and you're seated at a sports bar with a satellite dish and four big-screen TVs. It just doesn't get any better than that. (Look, if you're going to watch the games you absolutely must have a satellite dish, or you have to find someone who does, or else you're going to O.D. on 7-Up and Honda commercials by the end of the month.)

Usually I try to go to one of the games during the first round of the tournament, as long as it's within a 100-mile radius. I've been at some of the greatest upsets in NCAA history: Northern Iowa beating Missouri, Richmond upending the #2 seed Syracuse, tiny Sienna whipping Stanford, to name a few. The real sports junkie aches for the Thursday-through-Sunday first and second-round games. There's nothing quite like watching Princeton upend UCLA or Weber State knock off mighty North Carolina.

My wife, Allison, says that I take these games too seriously. She may be right. Several years ago, my alma mater Illinois blew a 7-point lead in a first round game against a college
My kids have started complaining that in March they feel as if they're growing up in a fatherless home.
named Austin Peay. That was the same school that produced the great Fly Williams and the immortal cheer, "The Fly is open, let's go Peay!" I felt close to suicidal for about two weeks after that Illini meltdown.

When Allison and I got married the hoops ground rules were already well established: She's not allowed to talk to me during the NCAA tournament. Sometimes she slips up and pesters me by saying, "Steve, take out the garbage please." And I will respond: "That's funny, I didn't think it was April yet." My kids have started complaining that in March they feel as if they're growing up in a fatherless home. One year an idiot friend of Allison's actually got married on the Saturday night of the Final Four, and I was forced to go as her date. "Gee, Karen," I said to her friend, "I'd much rather witness you taking your wedding vows than watch the Duke-Michigan State game." We almost got divorced over that little fracas.

Our second child, William, was accidentally born in March. We had strategically engaged in planned parenthood so that the baby would arrive in early April. William confounded our plans by arriving three weeks early. In fact, he was delivered in the middle of an Indiana-Temple game, a real nailbiter. I remember the game vividly because I kept running back and forth between the delivery room and the hospital TV room. The surly nurse kept asking me: "Mr. Moore, is this an inconvenient time for your wife to have this baby." I told her, with all honesty, that the timing could have been a lot better. Allison kept saying: "Let him go, I'm better off without him."

Anyway, as fate would have it, that was a great day after all. William was born healthy, and IU won the game. We came close to naming him Robert Montgomery Knight Moore.

The tournament, for all its greatness, has lost some of its luster of late. It was so much better when ESPN, rather than CBS, televised the games. CBS simply refuses to switch away from a boring game (only of interest to the local audience) to an exciting one in a different part of the country. (That's another reason why you need a satellite dish.) Another problem is that CBS now has women announcers and commentators. Is nothing sacred? This is like having wives attend a bachelor party. CBS caters its broadcasts to the marginal fan. ESPN is for the fanatic. Of course, there's a pall over this year's tournament given the recent death of the original voice of college basketball, Al McGuire.

This year I have two horses in the race. Illinois is, of course, the #1 seed in the Midwest, and I've psychologically prepared myself for the typical early exit to a lower-seeded team. I got my graduate degree from George Mason. The Patriots are in the big dance for the first time in ages. So here's my vision of Utopia: The Illini meet the Patriots in the Final Four.

So now, dear reader, you know my two real passions in life. Tax cuts and college basketball. And not necessarily in that order.

 
 

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