Monday, March 15, 2010

Sports and the Judiciary

By John DiMotto
Today's blog is not a legal one, it addresses an interest that I have in sports, particularly basketball. (Remember, this blog records the experiences of a circuit court judge - and that includes off the bench as well as on the bench.)
I consider myself a basketball fan. Particularly a college basketball fan. I really enjoy the spirit and the love of the game that students bring to the court. It is more emotional than professional basketball. It has more heart.
I follow a number of college teams: University of Wisconsin Badgers, Marquette University and the University of Maryland.
I went to Marquette as an undergrad. During my four years there (1968 - 1972), I don't think I missed a single home game. In those days, they were the Warriors. In those days, there was no Bradley Center, just the Milwaukee Arena. In those days students were given REALLY good seats. I can remember a few games sitting at mid court 15 rows from the floor! And the price of tickets for students in 1968 -- 50 cents. That's right, cents not dollars. 50 cents to see a top five team led by Al McGuire. Marquette had some great teams back then. Of course at tournament time, the format was very different. It was a much smaller field and far less fanfare.
I went to Wisconsin for law school. During my time there (1972 - 1974), basketball was a big second fiddle to football. They weren't very good. However, they tried hard. Back then, it was more about football and hockey than any other sport. With the subsequent emergence of Dick Bennett (an Italian by the way) and Bo Ryan, the Wisconsin basketball program took off.
While I have no personal educational connection to the University of Maryland, I do have a connection. My daughter did her undergrad work there. Maryland is a true college campus. It is self contained. Everything on campus - football stadium, basketball complex, soccer, baseball, softball, field hockey and lacrosse field. I adopted the campus and enjoyed traveling there to visit with my daughter and see sporting events with her. I probably follow Maryland sports even more closely that Wisconsin or Marquette. The past few years, following Maryland men's basketball has been especially fun with Greivis Vasquez running the team. The Terps have exceeded expectations because of their heart and they have beaten teams better than they were because of that heart. But it is not just men's basketball. The women's team has been even more exciting. Brenda Freese has had some great teams over the past six years or so. It culminated in a NCAA championship in 2006. I went to my fair share of Maryland women's games and the fans were unbelievable. Never, ever, have I seen fans have so much fun and be so into a game. It made me feel like I was back in school.
Sports is a great diversion for me. It gets my mind out of the courtroom and into a fun world. I am active in the law and active in my free time. I enjoy my work but I also enjoy the thrill of the game - whatever the game might be.
So, I am really looking forward to the next three weeks as the NCAA men's tournament and women's tournament progress. The blowouts, the nailbiters, the thrill of victory and agony of defeat - and a lot of it - is on the horizon. It truly is March Madness!

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