Gotta love it! So what if the Americans go a bit bananas over basketball this time of year. What’s not to love about basketball ? I am the biggest fan overseas, though I never fill in the NCAA brackets and rarely know who is rated in the Top 20. I have so many favorites; I always pick a winner. I love the Big Ten, naturlich. I love the overdog, like UConn, and the underdog, like Butler. I love all colors! The red and white of Illinois State, the purple and gold of University Wisconsin- Stevens Point (my daughter’s old team,) the orange and blue of Macalester (my son’s team.)
UWSP women made it to the NCAA Elite Eight. ISU Redbirds got knocked out in the N.I.T. semi finals. I joined the millions checking game results on Internet as soon as my feet hit the floor every morning. And if I burn the midnight oil, I can hook up to the game’s live stats or on-line video (seven hour time difference in Switzerland.)
Every year is filled with drama – broken hearted losers who sacrificed just as much as the ecstatic victors. Everyone anticipates beating the odds, knowing on any given day a Cinderella team can upset the shoo in. That is what makes the Big Dance so exciting.
The way I see it everyone is a winner. In 2010 men follow women’s college ball and boys request female hoop stars’ autographs. Families, friends, neighborhoods, cities and states support female athletes in packed arenas. Today little girls grow up dreaming of starring in their own Final Four.
Yet only yesterday society forbid females’ presence on any playing field. The full court game was considered too strenuous until my former ISU coach, Jill Hutchinson’s, dissertation proved a woman’s heart would not explode by playing 5-on-5 basketball, leading to the official rule change in 1970. Girls never got off the bench, until 1972, when Title IX passed requiring equal opportunity – regardless of race or gender – in publicly funded schools. So what if it took another decade until funding caught up. It’s showtime baby!
We have come a long way from a day when women were relegated to sideline because medical professionals maintained playing sports could cause a girl to collapse in the vapors. Every March along with the players of the day, I applaud the pioneers, coaches like Jill Hutchinson, Vivian Stringer, Pat Summitt, who fought so hard for the rights female college athletes enjoy today.
I have a 54-year-old buddy still kickin’ butts 3 on 3 in Boston, a sister making lay ups in Minneapolis, a daughter shooting hoops between her hospital rounds, a niece in college racing across hills in Wisconsin and a niece in high school playing, get this, tackle rugby.
So go purple, go gold, go, red, white, and blue! Go Pointers, go Redbirds, go Scotts. Go fans. Place your bets. Fill your brackets. I’ll put my money down on a sure thing. Everytime. Women. No one should go home feeling defeated. Win or lose today, women will reign on center court again tomorrow. Go girl! Bring it on. March Madness 2011! Gotta love it !
In theory, teaching looks like the ideal job. All those school holidays. In Europe, every six weeks we have vacation. We even shut down for the week long ski break to hit the slopes. But there is no escape. Even on mountaintops, teachers obsess about how to reach kids. For today’s students, conditioned by instant gratification in a society wired 24/7, attention spans last no longer than 15 seconds, the time it takes to microwave a muffin.
I am hung over from the midnight match, manning 2 computers to watch my son’s 3 o’clock college game live on-line at 10 pm Euro time.
Guilty of imposing my goals, I rationalize that being part of a team in the competitive American atmosphere will make them better prepared for the reality of the work world. But will it? Or am I merely trying to resurrect my old dream and play again by standing on their strong, young legs?
Flying into the next decade is for the birds.
Literally. If you are physically unable to expand your wings and catch the breeze, forget flying. Take it from me, frequent flyer extraordinaire; human air travel is perilous in the 21st century. A normal 7 to 8 hour flight to Europe (depending on tail winds) took a day.
personnel. Summer storms and winter blizzards make flying in and out of the Midwest challenging any season. Our flight out of Minneapolis was delayed due to the late arrival of our incoming plane from Amsterdam, which was further detained due to « minor aircraft impairment » during a rough landing due to ground conditions. Over share. I would rather not be informed about structural damage. At regular intervals a stewardess announced, « KLM/Northwest/Delta Flight 258
to Amsterdam will be delayed another hour. Boarding in 20 minutes. Oops, no detained 45 more minutes. Suddenly, boarding in 5 minutes.
could only be assigned at the gate. We joined the long line of anxious flier wannabees at the gate.
informed the plane is bigger than we anticipated, so I invite everyone without seating to report to our desk immediately. » How can a flight attendant mistake a plane’s seating capacity? Between security procedure updates, airline buy outs and cost cut backs, changes are implemented so rapidly that no one knows what is going on, least of all airline personnel.
because no one knows what is going on.
Terrorist threats abound. With pace makers, belt buckles and body part replacements setting off alarms, everyone is jumpy. I look forward to the new full body x-ray machines, so we wont have to strip down at every security checkpoint. While we waited at our boarding gate, CNN flashed Breaking News about Obama’s new Homeland Security measures, while an entire regiment of TSA workers patrolled like in a police state. In air, I added to the excitement by reporting a suspect, a green hooded, fidgety young man who remained in the toilet for over 15 minutes!
baggage-handlers’ strike at the airport.
Switzerland made the news again for the wrong reason. Rightwing leaders of the Central Democratic Union launched a popular initiative fora constitutional ban on minarets, the domed-topped spires on mosques, theIslamic architectural equivalent to the Christian steeple. On November 29th, the ban passed with an alarming, 57.5 % percent of the vote. Only 4 cantons, the French speaking ones, voted against it.
Muslims represent 5% of the country and only FOUR minarets exist in Switzerland. So much for the image of peaceful, bucolic alpine country where cow bells ring.
Youssef Ibram, the imam of the Geneva mosque insists. « We have failed to communicate that terrorism is not part of the Koran. If there are Muslims who have given Islam a negative image here or elsewhere, it should not be generalized to the entire Muslim community. »
Prejudice is always based on fear and ignorance. We fear most that which we do not understand. If we are truly a democratic society, freedom of speech and religion are non-negotiable human rights and to tamper with this by changing the constitution in a country that prides itself on multiculturalism is abominable.
remember, when as 6th grader my son visited temples, churches and mosques in Geneva and claimed, « the mosque was the most welcoming. » Our daughter, voicing a sentiment heard throughout the Swiss international community, insists « It is unfathomable that issue ever came to vote in the first place. »
mortals here on earth before it is too late.