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opinion/commentary View Comments

March Madness and Marriage Moments
By Mary Carty
Source: AmericanCatholic.org
Published: Friday, March 11, 2011
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After a season that encompassed autumn, a multitude of games, the holidays, a new year, exams, the last days of winter and regionals, college basketball teams are now waiting to learn which teams will make the cut for the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament.

On Sunday, March 13, at 6 p.m. (ET), the 68 “finalist” teams will be announced. These teams will have earned their way to this prestigious tournament that will test their well-honed skills to try to bring home the coveted DI title.

The schools, players and fans may be overjoyed, but the world of business is less than enthusiastic.

Earlier this month, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., reported that this sporting event could cost American companies $190 million in lost-worker productivity due to the distraction of computers, cell phones, office pools and tournament chit chat.

Though business stands to lose millions, stakes are high as well on the home courts all over this land, as marriages may suffer losses as well.

In some households, this annual event, known as “March Madness,” may cause minor or even major frustrations in a marriage. The degree of interest in the tournament may range from occasionally checking on scores during the tournament to watching the games to a 24/7 obsession that includes incessant up-to-the-minute radio, television and Web commentaries before, after and during each of the seven rounds. All of this outside focus may cause some distraction in the relationship.

Hands down, until April 4 and the sound of the final buzzer, “March Madness” will be the buzz—here, there and just about everywhere.

For a non-sports-minded spouse, this hoopla remains a mystery.

Like, how could the finals of anything possibly have 68 teams?

A neglected spouse may wonder why so much time and energy is spent on this spectator sport and wish that the same enthusiasm shown during this event would be shown at home.

For those baffled by this phenomenon, maybe taking a fresh look at the situation could bring about a change of attitude and a better understanding of the event.

Considering that “March Madness” is so popular that it is woven into the fabric of our culture, there must be some positive attributes that cause millions of fans to follow the teams though the regular season and become even bigger fans during the weeks of the tournament.

There must be some lessons to learn and there is the possibility of discovering some common ground for the couple to share.

Though this tournament is a competition for the trophy, title and glory, it is also a celebration and acknowledgment of the work and commitment of all of the student athletes and all of the teams shown over the course of the season.

A closer look at the process of the tournament and the game itself demonstrates some of the basics that brought these teams to the highest level of their leagues and to the college basketball world are:

1. There is a general protocol – rules and guidelines – understood and carried out by all participants.
2. At their best, there is clear, concise verbal and nonverbal communication between team members.
3. There is a strong spirit of commitment.
4. There are strategies to work together as a team to get the job done.
5. There is scheduled time shared on a regular basis to strengthen the team.
6. There is a united effort toward a goal and/or goals.
7. From opening tip-off to the final buzzer, the team members usually show hope, faith and strength.
8. There is perseverance of all members of the team while sharing the workload.
9. In time of crisis, time outs are called.
10. Last, but not least, teams often pray together before the beginning of a game.

Aha, there is common ground.

How ironic! All 10 concepts that create successful teamwork on the basketball court are the same principles that can help build a strong marriage.

This new discovery and paradigm shift for the non-sportive spouse might make watching this sporting event a pleasure, knowing that there is much more to be aware of than the score.

Hats off to the 68 college teams that made it to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball tournament.

For fans and non-fans alike, taking time to watch any of the games will be an opportunity share in the accomplishments of these fine athletes and learn a lesson or two about successful teamwork on the home court.


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Leopold Mandic: Western Christians who are working for greater dialogue with Orthodox Christians may be reaping the fruits of Father Leopold’s prayers.
<p>A native of Croatia, Leopold joined the Capuchin Franciscans and was ordained several years later in spite of several health problems. He could not speak loudly enough to preach publicly. For many years he also suffered from severe arthritis, poor eyesight and a stomach ailment.
</p><p>Leopold taught patrology, the study of the Church Fathers, to the clerics of his province for several years, but he is best known for his work in the confessional, where he sometimes spent 13-15 hours a day. Several bishops sought out his spiritual advice.
</p><p>Leopold’s dream was to go to the Orthodox Christians and work for the reunion of Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy. His health never permitted it. Leopold often renewed his vow to go to the Eastern Christians; the cause of unity was constantly in his prayers.
</p><p>At a time when Pope Pius XII said that the greatest sin of our time is "to have lost all sense of sin," Leopold had a profound sense of sin and an even firmer sense of God’s grace awaiting human cooperation.
</p><p>Leopold, who lived most of his life in Padua, died on July 30, 1942, and was canonized in 1982.</p> American Catholic Blog Good parenthood is a blend of yes and no. Knowing when to say no and enforce it leads to more yeses. No doesn’t shrink a child’s world; it expands it.

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