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Not One Shining Moment

It’s a quarter to three on a sunny Tuesday afternoon on the third floor of my university’s School of International Business. (Note to longtime readers: yes, I teach in a business school. Rich kids, mostly. But I’m just here for the language. (English is my personal favourite.) I teach them literacy and love and great songs and joyful reading, yes, and comma faults and five-paragraph essays and there/their/they’re. Some learn.) That means that Monday night’s NCAA final between the Louisville Cardinals and the Michigan Wolverines ended about three hours ago, as we’re a half-day ahead of Eastern Standard Time where I live.

I like this ’13 team better than Chris Webber’s “Fab 5” team, but he was a superb player.

I know that former UM great Chris Webber came to the game, which was a burning question on American sports wires for a day or so. I know that Louisville’s coach, Rick Pitino, had a horse he owns win something big in the equestrian universe. I know that Cardinals star Russ Smith’s high-school coach died recently, and that emerging Wolverine freshman Mitch McGary has a learning disability and, for a while, weight problems that kept him bench-bound.

What I don’t know is who won. I tried to catch the opening comments and tip at home this morning. Our virtual private network (VPN) was needed, not for Great-Firewall-of-China reasons but because it allowed the North American live feed to reach my wife’s desktop. (Sometimes.) Nice try, no dice, no tango, no way, nothing came through, and then I had to run off to class. I blazed and ranted and joked and generally cajoled a lovely group of writing students through my notes on their first assignment, and then hopped on the classroom ‘Net for an update. (No live streaming, of course, but I was able to grab my favourite on-line sports fix.) Louisville up 54-52, midway through the second half. Okay! Good ballgame. McGary’s got 3 fouls. And that little rookie Albrecht is lighting it up for Michigan! Louisville, nobody in foul trouble, and balanced scoring. Looks good for the Cards.

After the break, I kept on grammar-hammering, using my overhead projector to nail a few points and then highlight the most common errors in Job One from the “Transformers”. (China tidbit: these kids are quite unique in having transferred to our school from another university. It doesn’t happen here. As I understand it, such a program is available only in our province, and our school is among the very few — if not the only one — that accepts transfers once they pass a fairly gruelling entrance exam. I thought you’d like to know.) But hey! I glanced over at the computer screen a couple of times, and the “game tracker” wasn’t updating at all. I fiddled. I was burned: the machine had frozen up entirely. This was not shocking.

Then there was lunch, with a bunch of sports know-nothings. (Curse the sane ones!) Then there was room 316, where I am now, and the Internet is down (again) today. And then there was diffidence, when I realized that I didn’t really care whether I knew the result now or later tonight, when there’ll be more reflective commentary on-line and maybe even a chance to watch a replay at home, God (and my wife’s VPN) willing, with an enforced ignorance of the final numbers contributing a little faux suspense. Besides, now it’s 3:20, and I have some freshman writers to indoctrinate in the Howden Way to Read ‘n’ Write ‘n’ Remember.

This is how we watch the NCAA in Dalian. (That, for all I can tell, is a most royal “we”. I’m the only one I know who cares; reminds me of my hoop crazy youth in a small hockey town.)

Post-Script: The 3:40 class filled even the 10-minute break time, and 15 minutes after class, with curious and informed questions. (Glory in the afternoon! I do love that crew.) No checking the ‘Net for me. The game must have ended before noon, Dalian time, and now it’s 6:45 p.m. Time to take a peek. Louisville wins! 82-76. Now I’ll have to figure out how I feel ‘bout that, and learn some more. But shoot, a quick headline glance suggests Most entertaining title game ever? 

Second title for a great coach; might’ve had more if he’d stayed at Kentucky.

Once again, it’s a good thing I love to read.

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