Friday, March 14, 2014

The ACC Tournament still holds sway in N.C. classrooms

Media reports are saying that the Atlantic Coast Conference is on the brink of playing its marquee event, the men's basketball tournament, at the Barclay's Center in New York, as early as in 2017. It's an inevitability of massive conference expansion that will -- not unlike NASCAR's major boom of the past 20 years -- leave some long-timers feeling passed by while the powers that be hope the move will broaden the event's appeal. (I'm not a NASCAR fan, so I can't speak as to how that actually worked out or not.)

And while this move is likely to rub some Big Four fans the wrong way, take heart: it appears that even today, after years of expansion moves and enlarging the ACC's footprint to the point that it's almost unrecognizable, the good people of North Carolina still give a flip about the ACC tourney.

Case in point: yesterday, my first grader told me that they "studied" the ACC tournament in school.

It made me smile.

"When I was a kid," I said, sounding like the old man I've become, "we actually watched the games in class."

"We did watch it!" she said.

I smiled even larger.

Yes, I know in these days of budget cuts and Common Core and EOGs, watching basketball is probably not the most efficient use of time. But the fact that this is still done, even in some parts of North Carolina, makes me proud. The ACC tourney is a big part of who we are; it's a major part of our identity. Heck, I remember teachers using the tournament as a way to enhance teaching. One teacher -- in the days before Google Maps -- had her students determine how far it was from College Park, Md., to Tallahassee, Fla. (Ah, the old, "new" ACC.) And I may be reaching here, but if for a couple of days each March, some students in some rural N.C. schools actually got interested in the idea of going to college, then what is wrong with that?

Yes, this probably honestly nothing more than nostalgia that warms my heart. But so be it. As my buddy James Curle said over at Riddick & Reynolds a few years ago, "If you're a teacher in one of these pockets who insists on still watching the tournament in class. God bless."