March Madness Takes The Year Off | WisCommunity

March Madness Takes The Year Off

March 13, 2020 - 1:33am

It has been quite a day. I spent most of the day at the Red Cedar Watershed Conference, trying to get people to sign up for our daily newsletter by offering gifts. I'll write about that later.

The coronavirus is the topic of the day, and seems to be driving everything. My quickly-dwindling retirement fund is dropping like a rock, despite my having taken most of it out of stocks. The part that is left is dragging it down. Blame the virus, blame the oil prices, either way, a lot of people are going to suffer financially one way or another.

But mostly it has been the day of the great cancellation. Schools going into virtual mode (today it was UW-Eau Claire, which was one of the last Wisconsin campuses to decide). Earlier today the Farmers Union decided to give up on their rural rally and candidate forum. I'd been helping a little with organizing that, and it's really disappointing, but a rally with no candidates and with a few rural folks who were brave enough to chance being in a crowd just didn't sound like fun anymore. Not to mention all the events that I keep finding out have been canceled and need to be pulled out of the WisCommunity calendar. At the moment I have to wonder how anyone can campaign for the upcoming elections since all of those events are going down the drain.

Sporting events are disappearing too. I understand why, and I realize it's the right thing to do.  I felt badly enough when they decided to cut the WIAA tournament down to 88 tickets per team. But late today they canceled the remaining games in the tournament altogether. Those of you who know me well are probably wondering why Steve feels bad about sports since it's not normally a part of my life. But the few of you who have known me for a really long time will know that my high school basketball team went to the state tournament every year I was in high school, and that my team suffered what is still probably in Wisconsin basketball. I loved it all.

I wasn't an athlete, but I was in the pep band and directed the band my senior year. So I spent a lot of time in the field house. I also spent one really bad night sleeping on the floor in West High in Madison, in pain with an impacted wisdom tooth. There was a heavy snowfall and we were all stranded. It was a mess, but it was an experience. The year after the tournament took place in a beautiful early spring week, and we all spent the time wandering around Madison and enjoying the freedom of being in a college town. So yes, I have a lot of memories of the state basketball tournament. I'm sad that a lot of kids are just not going to have that experience, from the players to the band kids to the kids who are just there to cheer their team on. I'm not a sports guy, but for one week a year I really felt it. 

It's a trivial thing in a sea of news about an illness that is spreading around the world. We're all going to have our lives changed for a while in a lot of ways, many of which I don't think we can even imagine yet. But for a little while a bunch of teenage kids will have a great uniting experience taken away from them. So for a few minutes I am going to let myself feel their pain before I move on. I was one of those kids, and I wouldn't have given those few weeks of my life up for the world.


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Steve Hanson
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