There but for the grace of God

Spring has finally come to my part of the world, and I promise those of you still waiting with snow on the ground, spring will come to you, too. One sure sign of spring is March Madness, that time in the college basketball season when many of us spend too much time in front of the television and too much time at work talking about how our bracket picks are holding up.

On Easter, my parents came over for lunch, and they were somewhat incredulous that I wasn’t planning to watch Duke play Louisville later in the day. Their incredulity is fair, because when I lived under their roof, I was as avid a basketball fan as they come. And at one point, when I played in a youth orchestra at Duke and dreamed of attending Duke for college, I was an avid Duke fan. Watching Lousville beat Duke in the 1986 Championship game was very painful for me, and so I’m never anxious to watch Louisville play.

As Robert Frost writes, “Way leads on to way,” and I ended up attending an ACC school, but not of the blue and white ilk. My team made a hasty exit from the NCAA tournament this year, and so my interest level in the rest of the tournament had dropped to near zero.

So when I turned the television on Sunday afternoon, I hadn’t really been planning to watch basketball. I simply wanted to spend some downtime watching one of the shows I recorded from the past week. But the television was tuned to the basketball, and when I realized it was the Duke-Louisville game, I decided to watch for a few minutes.

I wish I hadn’t turned on the TV at all, because moments into my watching came that awful moment. You basketball fans know the one I mean. Louisville’s Kevin Ware was trying to block a Duke player’s 3-point shot, and when he came down … well, there was no mistaking the leg break. I cried out. I cried out again when the network replayed his leg breaking in slow motion. It is an image burned on my brain, and it made me feel sick. (I will not watch it again, and for those of you who haven’t seen it, I hope you’ll trust my decision not to link to a video of it here. It’s horrific, and you just don’t need to watch it.)

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