March Moment: Tending the Hardwood

Posted by jstevrtc on March 16th, 2010

Few college basketball fans are born with their love for the game.  For most aficionados, at some point on the way from infancy to college hoops fan, there is a moment.  A single play, shot, player, game, or event at which point they say to themselves, “I will always have this in my life.”  Because it is the time of the season that carries the most gravitas, these things often happen in March. We asked some of our friends and correspondents:  what was the thing that turned you into a lifelong college basketball fan?  What was your…March Moment? We’ll be posting some of their answers for the rest of the month.

Our first submission comes from a friend living in California who grew up a George Mason fan and, at an early age, was given an important job:

Basketball players are really tall. And the “big men” generally live up to their name. Especially from the standpoint of a twelve-year-old sitting beneath the basket.

Long before Fairfax, Virginia adopted them as their very own Cinderella, the George Mason Patriots were working to perfect their “run-and-gun” style of play that earned them more victories than defeats in the Colonial Athletic Conference. It was during this earlier era that I was bestowed the high responsibility of drying the floor of player sweat in between plays. A trivial task? Maybe to non-12-year-olds. As they say, the harder they come, the harder they fall. And I don’t think the originator of that old saw considered leaping ability in the equation. When these guys fall, you hear it and you feel it. And if the fall had something to do with a wet spot – which for that day comprised the entirely of my existence – then you’d better have a good reason as to why that wasn’t taken care of when the ball was at the other end of the court. In these matters age most certainly does not matter.

Our author would gladly have wiped the sweat from Coach Larranaga. (AP/Jack Dempsey)

I am proud to report than only several slips and no injuries were reported on the day I wielded the towel. I owe it all to my training. Yes, training. You think they let just anybody out to wipe the court? During pre-game warm-ups the athletic trainer took me and a few others aside to demonstrate proper drying techniques. Sometimes you can get away with the foot-wipe, using your foot to negotiate the towel around the court, but sometimes the hand-wipe is required. Much of this depends on the time available before the next possession. Believe me, when these guys are running at you down the court, considerations of self-preservation tend to override wetness determinations. I should also tell you that the foot-wipe allows you to transition most easily into a sprint, but don’t forget to leave the towel behind. That might ruin someone’s ankle.

For those of you interested in participating in the annual event of Pamplona, Spain, you might consider this line of work as a primer for the big race. It will improve your agility and dexterity. The pay is non-existent, but you’ll be witness to an entire side of college basketball that you generally don’t see on television, or even sitting in the arena. The Patriots remain one of the greatest shows on earth under Coach L. and I can assure you that the floor of the Patriot Center is one of the most attended-to surfaces in all the NCAA.

jstevrtc (547 Posts)

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