Tuesday, March 16, 2010


One day last May, I was sitting at work when I got a call from my little brother, Robby.  He was bubbling with excitement.

"Bro," he said.  "Can you believe there's only 149 days until college basketball starts??"

Robby talks, studies, and obsesses about college basketball more than anyone not named Vitale.  He finishes his homework by 7:00 every night -- not because he's a good boy, but because that's when the first games start.  If the work isn't done, he'll wake up early and finish it in the morning.

So when all of Southern Connecticut lost power just hours before the NCAA Tournament Selection Show -- thanks to the worst storm the state had seen in thirty years -- I felt bad for the families forced to temporarily relocate to hotels, and the women forced to go to friends' houses to shower and do their hair.  

But there was no one I felt worse for than Robby.

He'd dreamed about seeing these brackets for months.  He studied Joe Lunardi's Bracketology on ESPN.com every day, calling me with hypothetical matchups, asking me who I'd take.  And now they were out for real -- on television and computer screens everywhere -- and the kid who'd been looking forward to them the most couldn't see them.  

There was nothing he could do.  

What did Robby do to deserve this?  Did he piss off the gods in a previous life?  Over-indulgence is a deadly sin.  Was this his punishment for being over-obsessed with sports?  I'm over-obsessed with sports.  Should I be worried, too?

Or maybe the issue is that kids have become too reliant on technology.  When I was Robby's age (I know, I sound so old), I got my scores from a newspaper.  He could do that if he wants.  But that isn't enough for kids today.  They need media that lives, breathes, speaks, and runs on electricity.  It's more engaging, but it also makes you more vulnerable.

Yesterday, Robby called me around lunchtime, dying to talk college hoops.  He still had no TV and no internet, and just ten minutes of juice left on his unchargeable cell phone.  

"Bro, please talk matchups with me."
"I can't, bro. I have to work."
"Just ten minutes bro.  Please."
"I really can't, bro.  I'm sorry."

"Bro," he said, desperate and deflated.   

"It's all I have left."