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March Madness: What a Fan and a Foreigner Learned from a Basketball Liturgy

“I wonder if that's how people who don't go to church feel the first time they visit somewhere.”
March Madness: What a Fan and a Foreigner Learned from a Basketball Liturgy
Image: adamkaz / Getty

In February last year, my best friend flew down from the Midwest for a delightful, week-long visit. While she was here in the Carolinas, I introduced her to one of my most favorite experiences in the world: a Division I college basketball game. The home team shall remain nameless, except to say that its arena now features a 2005 NCAA Championship banner.

Anyway, I was thrilled to have my friend join me and share my passion for an evening. It was her first major college game, so I made sure I explained as much as I could beforehand about what she could expect from the experience.

I could tell she was a bit overwhelmed when we entered the buzzing arena, but we soon found our seats and settled in for the event. As the horn sounded after warm-ups, the house lights were dimmed to focus attention on the court, and the players readied themselves for the opening tip-off.

For the next two hours, I stood up, sat down, shouted, sang, jumped, raised my hands, swayed, and clapped with 22,000 other devoted ...

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