Wasn’t the NCAA final a great game? It was a titanic struggle, full of drama and excitement, as two top teams—the University of Kansas and the University of Memphis—battled for the championship. While I could say the game had ebbs and flows, when basketball is played at that level of intensity, tidal waves and rip tides would be more appropriate terminology.
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Explore This IssueJune 2008
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When my Blue Devils exited in the second round, I switched my allegiance to the other North Carolina teams, first to upstart Davidson (Didn’t you love watching Stephen Curry, a thin reed among the trees, blessed with a silky jump shot?) and then to the usually hated Carolina. When the finals came, I really didn’t have a team to root for and I would have been equally happy whatever the outcome as long as the game was closely fought.
The match-up lived up to promise and the last two minutes of regulation time were thrilling. Whether the turn of events was a heroic comeback or a mortifying collapse is a matter of perspective. I had to stay up after my bedtime to watch the overtime period, but it was great TV and worth every minute, even if American Idol had a higher rating that week.
Medicine Through a Basketball Lens
At this point, I am sure, Dear Reader, you are asking what basketball has to do with the practice of medicine. This is The Rheumatologist after all, not Sports Illustrated, and I know that you want information about our profession, not the musings of a Frank Deford wannabe. For those of you who read this column, you know that I like to write about sports because, in our society, sports are a metaphor for everything. Under the aegis of TV, sports has exploded in importance as the games of children have become a focus of billions of people who are told that these games have transcendent meaning.
Today, I heard a commentator on TV say that the Masters golf tournament “thrills the soul and replenishes the spirit.” Wow, I thought, that sounds very inspiring, but it is utter malarkey. Although sports have been touted far beyond what it is reasonable, they do provide a picture of human nature and, in sometimes bizarre ways, can illuminate other endeavors, such as medicine.
Patience, my friends, patience. Please wait and you will see where I am going.
Anyway, what intrigued me about the tournament was the attention accorded to the coaches. Just as pro basketball is a game of players, college basketball is a game of coaches. They are the stars and the marquee attractions, and often eclipse the players in fame. The players, alas, appear interested in being student-athletes until eligible for the pro draft. Despite their professed allegiance to their alma maters, however, college coaches are migratory birds, ready to take flight for a better offer. Coaches get big bucks, with University of Kansas coach Bill Self’s victory in the NCAA final allegedly netting him a raise to over $2 million a year.