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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blogging the ACC tournament: VT beats Miami, Georgia Tech takes on Clemson, I miss NC basketball fervor

click to enlarge HEY TIGER!: Your girl's outfits are hurting my head
  • HEY TIGER!: Your girl's outfits are hurting my head

Journalism is a good gig. Don't let anyone tell you differently. I'm sitting here 20 feet from the court at end of the first game of the ACC Tournament, and wondering how I got so lucky. As if reviewing restaurants for a living wasn't cool enough.

Virginia Tech has just beat Miami by almost 20 points. Georgia Tech is about to take on Clemson. I hope Tech can defy expectations. I doubt it. So far, Miami and Clemson win the award for ugliest cheerleading outfits.

When I found out the tournament was happening in Atlanta this year, I thought about getting tickets. My husband was thrilled with the idea. "Only $400 each for the whole tournament!" he said. Ugh...right. Journalism is great, but it doesn't pay well enough to make $800 fun possible.

Then, during discussions about the launch of our new website, it was decided we'd have a new section on the homepage devoted to sports, something we've done a fairly awful job of covering in the past (in my opinion). Hmmmm....I began plotting. When my media credentials were approved, my husband began pouting. He hasn't stopped yet.

Yesterday I stopped by to check out Georgia Tech practice and was giddy at being so close to the action, at getting my own spot so near these large boys. I sometimes don't know how I became so attached to this sweaty boy spectacle. No, that's a lie. I do know. I lived in North Carolina.

Try being a non-basketball fan in Chapel Hill, and see how lonely you are. For a couple of years when I first moved there, I resisted. During games the town would clear out and I'd sit in cafes or bars looking out over the empty streets and shake my head. What was wrong with this town? Everyone in Chapel Hill cares about the basketball. There is no such thing as too cool for sports in that town. The frat boys, the business men, the indy rockers and hipsters all come together during basketball season. In restaurants, there has to be a television in the kitchen or the cooks wouldn't show up to work on game days. Which wouldn't matter much because no one goes out to eat anyway.

After a couple of years of being an outcast from December to April every year, I decided to care. That was 10 years ago. In that time I've been privileged to watch Roy Williams win the NCAA championship, and recruit some of the best college players of all time. Seeing the careers of Tyler Hansborough, Ty Lawson and Danny Green play out has been amazing. I've been to a few GA Tech games and tried to get into it. But it's not the same. The intensity in North Carolina, both in and out of the Dean Dome, is hard to overstate. I miss, in the midst of a game, being able to scream "TAR!!!!" out my living room window, and hearing a chorus of "HEELS!!!!!" back from people all over the neighborhood. I'm a UNC fan first and foremost. But I'm a ACC fan second.

I believe the ACC is the best damn conference in the country, and I get mad when people debate it. I loved living in a state with four great teams - and I miss it. I'm hoping to bring you scenes from the tournament that you might not get at ESPN or any of the other places the sea of 99% male, middle aged sports reporters around me will bring you. For instance, as I write this, two little kids behind me in full Virginia Tech gear (riled up after VT beat the crap out of Miami a few minutes back) are heckling the Clemson Tiger. "Hey Tiger!!! Nice clown shoes!" They're around 6 years old.

Feel free to email me at besha.rodell@creativeloafing.com to let me know what you want to hear from the tournament.

(photo by Besha Rodell)

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