Basketball Everywhere: Websites to Help You Follow The March Madness

It’s March 15, 2007, the first day of the NCAA Division I National Tournament, also known as March Madness. At 3:00 pm, I just got back from the bank making our daily deposit, it’s cloudy and cool outside so now I’m sitting at my desk and I’m watching basketball!
That’s right. I’m on the internet watching games live and for free! Does it get any better?

I love technology. The information age of the internet, cable, satellite, high-speed and DSL make so many things in life an experience.

It has always been a chore to try to keep track of all the games on the first two days f the NCAA tournament because sixteen games must be played on both Thursday and Friday. CBS determined a long time ago that the best format would be to play those sixteen games in four sessions of four games each. The network’s answer to people wanting to watch all the games was to stagger the start of each game by a few minutes so they could broadcast the end of each game, especially if there was an upset brewing. They could also broadcast exciting games in favor of blowouts.

Now on the two most exciting days of the most exciting month in sports, you can watch every game in progress, and at the same time. Two years ago you could have only watched one game at a time on CBS and maybe listened to another. Now you can choose not only to keep track of all four games, but how you keep track them.

For instance, satellite providers now offer a channel on which you can view all four games in progress on the same screen. You can then choose which game’s audio you listen to. Cable countered this offer with one of its own. Charter Communications, a leading cable provider, offers complete coverage of the tournament with their “On Demand” feature.

This seems to leave those of you who work during the day still wondering what’s going on. Heaven forbid you have to wait four hours for the evening news to check your bracket. Well, thanks to the internet, that’s no longer the case, either.

Every major website that covers sports has a live scoreboard. The scores refresh every 15 or 30 seconds. Most places also offer live box scores so you can track your favorite players.

CBS has used the internet this year to top them all. CBS is streaming all of their live coverage on their website. You can watch any game, at any time, for free! All you have to do is register a login name and password. You see the same coverage and advertisements and hear the same announcers.

I can only imagine what my grandpa would think about this. Take a moment to imagine your grandpa, in his grandpa voice, telling you his in my day story about listening to games on the radio and what a big deal TV was, even when it was black and white. He might have also mentioned, “What a shame it would be if you had to wait to read tomorrow’s paper to find out what happened.”

I think about those stories and am very thankful for the blessings of information and technology we have today. And why, because I can watch four basketball games all at the same time.

A Look Back at the 1996 Green Bay Packers Super Bowl Winning Team

To the nation as a whole, 1996 was just another year of football in the NFL. Except if, like me, you’re from Wisconsin. That was the year the Lombardi Superbowl trophy returned to Green Bay. And what a year it was.
Growing up in Wisconsin wasn’t much fun in the 70’s and 80’s. Especially on Sundays. I knew I’d better behave for the rest of the week if the Packers lost because it undoubtedly put my father in a tremendously bad mood. So as you can imagine, my dad didn’t smile much when I was a kid because Green Bay didn’t win very often.

You see, during the sixteen weeks of season play, the whole state of Wisconsin’s collective consciousness is transformed each week according to the W or L column. The effect being intensified the closer you reside to the epicenter: Lambeau Field–our Mecca, or at least until ’96, the Wailing Wall. And the effects have only gotten more jagged with a gunslinger like Brett Favre at the helm for the past fifteen years. An interception, I’ve witnessed, can cause serious lake trauma.

How serious Wisconsin takes its football can be likened to soccer in Italy. Its a madhouse.

So you can imagine what it was like before the season started in ’96. Everyone in the sporting press was predicting Green Bay to go all the way. I didn’t realize what a big deal it was until my brother made a random statement which went, “Whuddya mean? Green Bay is the hottest team in the NFL right now!” Hottest team? Green Bay? Whaaaaa? The words just didn’t make any sense to me. I’d never heard such a phrase in my whole life. The words “hottest team” always had a “Cowboys” or “49ers” attached to it. Not the Green Bay Packers.

And yet, it was real. The first five or so games of that season are still burned in my brain as the epitome of dominance. Favre would throw 30+ touchdowns that year, get his second MVP vote, and put on a show nobody had seen in the NFL before. Finally football was FOOTBALL again. It had been a while since anyone had seen a quarterback just as apt to block a 300-pound lineman as he was to throw the long ball perfectly on target. The defense, with Reggie White as its leader, was the best in the NFL that year.

It was beautiful.

I particularly remember the Monday Night Football game where Green Bay faced the 49ers. Brett Favre called it the most physical game he ever played. The contest went into overtime, and the Packers drove down the field, but were stopped barely within field goal range. In stepped Chris Jacke, the kicker, and was about to attempt a 54-yarder. Now, in the past, Green Bay would have missed that score, and my dad would be Mr. Grumble for the rest of the week. But not that night. Jacke nailed it, the place went crazy, and our living room–consisting of my dad, my brother, and me–went crazy as well, prompting my mother, who had been awakened by the ruckus, to come downstairs and curtly ask, “What in God’s name just happened?”

“Go Pack” became the peace sign or a strong handshake to Wisconsinites. Even non-sportsfans could be seen wearing #4 jerseys.

The Green Bay Packers went on to win the division championship, defeating the Carolina Panthers in sub-zero, Lambeau Field conditions, and then moved on to New Orleans to face the New England Patriots. The Patriots had Bill Parcells and Drew Bledsoe, and were a formidable foe. But the domination of every aspect of the Green Bay team continued until the clock ran out. Favre had two touchdown passes (one of them the longest pass play in superbowl history) and a third rushing TD. Reggie White had three sacks–the most in a superbowl to that day, and Desmond Howard, the special teams runback specialist, returned the longest TD ever in a superbowl as well.

Needless to say, when the clock ran out, and the Green Bay Packers were on top, well…let’s just say every town in Wisconsin went ballistic. A friend of mine was driving her El Camino through town, and ended up giving a ride to a whole clan of drunken, crazy Packer fans, who had decided to hop in the back as she was waiting at a stop light. One big happy Wisconsin family.

Happy ten-year Superbowl Anniversary, Green Bay. Let’s hope it comes back around soon.

Go Pack.


Football Glossary for the Clueless

Baffled from the Start
I have never fully understood the rules, the intimacies, the terminology of the game of football. Don’t get me wrong, I adore football and all it stands for: Team spirit, crushing people, tons of cool merchandise, funny commercials and the half-time show. Needless to say, as a girl, I feel obligated and yes, even compelled to blame this lack of sports knowledge on the male species that have littered my path. Dear old dad, my two older brothers, several uncles and eventually a boyfriend or two. I should have been taught as a child,when my brain was eager as a sponge to sop up all the terminology needed to understand the game. It was their manly duty to teach me football, but somehow that ball got dropped.

I am not immune to the sport. In fact, oddly enough I’ve even played football. I could hold that ball with the laces under my fingers and let it fly. It had a pretty good spin on it too! I could run. I could tackle. I could even catch. Surprisingly or not, I never got tackled. Too fast I guess. I played with my brothers and the neighborhood boys. To be honest, when those boys showed up my spot was taken. No girls allowed unless there was no one else to play with. After elementary school, I stopped playing football. That is until my senior year in high school. That autumn a group of us were hearing freedoms distant ring and we needed to run with the ball. It was a great opportunity to flirt and exercise.
Ah, youth.

Decades later my husband is a football addict
And I’m not. Oh, I like football. We have history. I love the excitement, the cheerleaders, the idea of hot dogs and beer while freezing my butt off. But, sadly I still don’t “get it.” The rules, the terms. Until today. Today I watched, listened and asked. It wasn’t easy, but I sat through (practically) an entire game!
The list below is what I’ve gleaned from watching the Eagles and the Green Bay Packers. Naturally it is only a portion of what needs to be learned. Read and learn or read ’em and weep?

• Shut out.. He has been shut out because he has not caught a ball yet, and so he essentially has a zero. (sounds so harsh, doesn’t it?)

• Rushed. When you run with the ball. How many yards you’ve run. Example: Maclyn has rushed 28.

• Blitz: When you send extra people in or assign extra players to rush the quarterback. They need to get in there quick as their normal posts are not being covered.

• 4Th down. OK, well something about getting a first down, get 10 yards…

Here it is in a nutshell: each team has the opportunity to possess the ball. When a team gets the ball and gets tackled (say), from that point they measure 10 yards. Now, they play again and if they drop it again, say 4 feet away, they would then be 1st down and four. So, they play again. Then it gets rough and they get down again in 3 feet, this is now called a 2ND down and 7. Etc., etc. (time to go water some plants).

• These announcers talk about “Downs” all the time. Gash.

• Touch downs are not as common, but if they were, the game wouldn’t be so complicated. Taking into account that the quarterback catches the ball and runs the field. They are worth 6 points. An extra point can be earned by kicking the ball and getting a field goal.

• Sacked. When you tackle the quarterback behind the line of scrimmage. He’s got the ball and you need to knock him down before he gets a down.

• Scrimmage: the line where there starting to play at.

• Kicking over and in between the big pole at the end of the field is called a field goal and is usually worth three points. This is usually done in the 4Th down when all hopes of a touchdown are gone. It is better to try to get the three points than to get none.

• Time Out: Taken to stop the clock to give them more time to run the clock out and get the ball back. Not what I thought at all. Don’t even ask…

Considering all that techno-jargon, I still enjoy football. It’s a no-brainer really. Food, friends, sports… have you even tried my South of the Border Ole’ recipe? It can stick to walls. Go team!