Sports

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER
A faculty member reflects on a feverish basketball season

By Jim Bettinger


Sometime between the end of February and the Ides of March, despite a commitment to intellectual rigor, empirical evidence and objective analysis, I gave in to a Stanford strain of March Madness. It was delicious.

For a few days ­ the most exquisite week in Farm basketball history, when both the women’s and men’s teams had reached the third round of the NCAA championship tournaments ­ all things were possible. Impassioned debates explored the chances for dual national championships. (The women were a sure thing; the men had a slightly rougher road.) Sure, the odds were against it. Of course it had never been done. But if not Stanford, then who? If not this year, then when?

In the aftermath of this fevered hyperventilation, a cooling postmortem is in order. How did we get so bewitched?

Most of us come at this as observers, not as participants. We attend some Stanford games, watch more on television, or listen on radio. Like others, I’ve had a handful of athletes in classes I teach, but I can’t say we talked much about the role of sports in society, or even the role of sports at

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