March Madness and Colonel Crazies!

A Colonel Crazy

A Colonel Crazy

March is the time of year for Basketball Tournaments – we all know about the NCAA National Championships – the brackets, the wildness, the March Madness.  But, these trickle down to other levels as well.  And I have been fortunate to be a participant of these at many levels.

Sumoflam at KHSAA Sweet 16

Sumoflam at KHSAA Sweet 16

Last week I worked with my friends at PrepSpin.com to assist in broadcasting the events of the KHSAA (Kentucky High School Athletic Association) Boys’ Sweet 16 Tournament held in Rupp Arena.  Today, when people around the country hear the term “Sweet 16”, they typically think of the quarterfinal round of the NCAA Tournament.  What most people may not know is that the term “Sweet 16” originated in 1918 in Kentucky (and the KHSAA actually holds a trademark on the phrase – they got it in 1988).  The KHSAA has licensed the use of the term to the NCAA as they split along high school and collegiate lines.  The term “March Madness” did not originate with the NCAA either. The Illinois High School Basketball Championship was the first tournament to be called ‘March Madness‘. The term was first used about the Illinois tournament in 1939 (coined by H.V. Porter to capture the spirit of High School Basketball Tournaments), decades before it was used about NCAA basketball tournament.  The IHSA has a nice writeup about Porter and his coining of the term.

Covington Catholic cheering section at Rupp Arena

Covington Catholic cheering section (the Colonel Crazies) at Rupp Arena

Indeed, the basketball tournaments, from High School, to Junior Colleges (see the NJCAA Men’s National Basketball Championship Tournament) to the NCAA are not only known for their great basketball, but for their fan craziness!  These have become big events with mascots, inflatables, half time shows and competitions, etc.

Sumoflam and the National Guard guy at KHSAA Sweet 16

Sumoflam and the National Guard guy at KHSAA Sweet 16

My first real experience with these at any level was back in 1972, while a sophomore at Charles M. Russell High School in Great Falls, Montana.  I was in the Marching Band there (played saxophone) and we ran the concessions for the games.  Because of the nice domed arena the school had (one of the nicest in the country at the time), many of the state tournaments were played there.  I ran the “hot dog steamer” post during these events.  It was always an exciting time.  Even then, the fans were crazy!! (And the Hot Dogs were awesome!)

Hot Dog Steamer

Hot Dog Steamer – Kind of like what was used in the 1970s

My next opportunity to really enjoy March Madness was when I got tickets to attend the BYU vs. Xavier game at Rupp Arena in March 2007. What a game that was (though BYU lost 79-77).  It was an exciting time to be a BYU Fan.

A mock up with my friend Glen Krebs -- March Madness

A mock up with my friend Glen Krebs — March Madness

During my employment at iHigh.com I had the opportunity to work with the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) and managed the initial setup of their NJCAA-TV internet broadcast program.

NJCAA TV

NJCAA TV

The glowing crown jewel for the NJCAA was their Men’s and Women’s National Basketball Championships held in Hutchinson, KS (for the Men) and Salina, KS (for the Women).  As the manager of the NJCAA program at the time, I journeyed to Kansas and oversaw the production of the broadcasts of all Men’s and Women’s games.  This was a lot of work, but it was also loads of fun with all of the activities and excitement.

Practicing the art of Monitoring Broadcasts

Practicing the art of Monitoring Broadcasts

Sumoflam the Broadcaster

Sumoflam the Broadcaster

During my time at iHigh we also broadcast all of the KHSAA tournaments, but I typically stayed at the office to monitor the broadcasts, so I never got in on the excitement.  But this year I did.  The games were all fun, but, it is the “Madness” part of March Madness that I got into….

Getting in on the madness with CovCath cheerleaders (man in black)

Getting in on the madness with CovCath cheerleaders (man in black)

The event started with 16 Teams and ended with 4 last Friday, including Scott County (my good friend Mike Ritchie broadcasts for them and my daughter in law Holly graduated from there), Trinity (from Louisville), Covington Catholic (the Cinderella team) and Bowling Green (also a Cinderella).  The two Final Four games (the official NCAA story is that “Final Four” was coined by a Cleveland Plain Dealer sportswriter, Ed Chay. In a 1975 article for the Official Collegiate Basketball Guide, Chay wrote that Al McGuire’s Marquette squad “was one of the final four” in the previous year’s tournament. Something about the phrase struck a chord with the NCAA’s marketing folks, and they started capitalizing it as “Final Four” in 1978. It is, of course, now trademarked.)

Broadcasting the KHSAA in March 2014

Broadcasting the KHSAA in March 2014

During the 2014 KHSAA Sweet 16 I worked in the bowels of Rupp Arena where I was responsible for the broadcasts of the Post Game interviews through the semifinals.  I also provided live Tweets for VYPE Magazine of Louisville. (I manage the VYPE.com Network websites). Scott County outlasted Trinity and then Covington Catholic came on strong against Bowling Green.  But, the real interest to me was the CovCath Student Cheering Section (affectionately known as the “Colonel Crazies“).  In the first two games they rocked and shook the arena.  I never really got to see them the first two times around, so I decided to head out during the semifinals.  They were all coordinated…dressed in black and their cheering and movements all seemed practiced and choreographed.  CovCath is an all boys school so these guys were rambunctious and fun loving!

Sumoflam and the CovCath Cheering Section

Sumoflam (in his VYPE hat) and the CovCath Colonel Crazies

CovCath Student Cheering Section

CovCath Student Cheering Section – the Colonel Crazies

A "Batman" from CovCath during the seminfinal game

A “Batman” from CovCath during the semifinal game

Colonel Crazies at Rupp Arena

Colonel Crazies at Rupp Arena

Cheering on the Colonels of CovCath

Cheering on the Colonels of CovCath

During halftime the wave went around the arena but when it hit the CovCath boys they had “fast” waves and “slow motion” waves as well.

The following video then shows their Fast Motion waves as well as some real FAN excitement.  This was one of my iPhone videos I uploaded to YouTube.

As well, at halftime, and to the delight of the CovCath boys, Cincinnati restauranteur Jeff Ruby (owner of Luxury Steak House Jeff Ruby’s chain) bought pizza’s for each of the boys in the cheering section pizza (apparently 119 pizzas).

Jeff Ruby watching the CovCath Cheering Squad enjoy pizza at half time

Jeff Ruby watching the CovCath Cheering Squad enjoy pizza at half time

CovCath Cheerleader showing off his halftime pizza (courtesy of Jeff Ruby!)

CovCath Cheerleader showing off his halftime pizza (courtesy of Jeff Ruby!)

At the end the Scott County Cardinals would face off with the Covington Catholic Colonels for the 2014 Kentucky State Championship

Scott County Press Conference after semi-final victory over Trinity

Scott County Press Conference after semi-final victory over Trinity

In the end the Championship game was all is was touted to be.  Scott County took off strong but CovCath fought back and at the end of the clock they were tied and headed to overtime.  CovCath continued their end of the game hot streak by defeating Scott County 59-51 in overtime.  And, as Jeff Ruby noted on his Twitter site, they couldn’t have done it without the support of the Colonel Crazies.

CovCath Colonel Crazies Cheering Squad with avid supporter Jeff Ruby (taken from Jeff Ruby's Twitter site)

CovCath Colonel Crazies Cheering Squad with avid supporter Jeff Ruby (taken from Jeff Ruby’s Twitter site)

Though I was rooting for Scott County, I am happy for the CovCath Colonels.  Having been ranked to finish 5th in their region, they came out on top then came to state as an underdog and proved their worth.  Their determination and hard fought basketball (and their Free Throws!!) won the game for them.

Go UK!

Go UK!

Now to get ready for the NCAA Sweet 16 game when University of Kentucky takes on Louisville….an in-state rivalry playing their game in Indianapolis later this week.  GO CATS!!

Facebook is 10 and I have lots of Friends

FacebookFacebook turned 10 years old this week. In celebration, they provided a look back video for all Facebook users that wanted one. Here’s a link to mind if you’re interested in seeing it.

The bigger story to me, is how Facebook has been a catalyst for the creation of new relationships. Anyone that uses Facebook knows that when you hook up with someone on Facebook you have “friended” them on Facebook. Currently I have 1468 friends on Facebook. I don’t say that to brag or to boast or for any other reason but to say that I have all of these “relationships”. It causes me to reflect on what the meaning of “friend” is now that we have Social Media.

FacebookLikeWhen I was in high school in the 1970s I moved three different times and went to three different high schools. I didn’t have an opportunity to make what I would call “long term” friendships. But, in each of my three high schools (Charles M Russell in Great Falls,  MT; Bozeeman Senior in Bozeman, MT; and Murray High in Murray, Utah), I was able to garner some good friendships. I was always an anti-clique friend to many, taking pride in the fact that I was able to cross numerous thresholds to become friends with members of the band, athletes and members of other groups and clubs in school. Nevertheless, each of my friends typically had something in common with me whether it was being a band member, or a cross-country team member, or a member of the journalism club, we always had something in common.

FriendsCurrently I really have very few relationships with individuals from my first two high schools in Great Falls and Bozeman, but I have a lot of good relationships with many from my Murray high school days. I’m not sure what the difference was since I spent the same amount of time at each school, but perhaps it was that I graduated from Murray High and that I joined the LDS (Mormon) church in Murray that many of my friends, most of whom were Mormons, probably deepened the relationships that I had. To this day some of them are still very close friends.

David and friends

David hanging with Brett and Scott in 1976

Back then our main means of communication was meeting and doing things together and talking on the phone. Very few of us wrote letters, and indeed, I was not a very good letter writer either. When I went to Japan to serve as a missionary for the LDS church, I did write a lot of letters and receive a lot of letters but most of them were from family members and not my friends. When I returned home in 1978, I once again hooked up with friends and we would go to movies, rock concerts and out to eat and other things that young twentysomethings did back then.

Writing Letters home in 1977

Writing Letters home in 1977

With the birth of America Online and appearance of email, the opportunity to hook up with friends via electronic communication became appealing to many of us. It was easier to start catching up with people and doing it via email. And, of course, in those days, we’re talking the 1990s, email was hip.

GotMailBut then about 10 years ago this new Internet thing called Facebook was born. It was the birth of social networking as we know it today. Initially it was college students and high school kids that caught on and started using Facebook. Adults like me, then in my 40s, just didn’t get it yet. But, responsible parents started checking in on their children’s Internet activities which included Facebook. We then wondered about ourselves participating in Facebook. At the same time, there were other groups trying to do the same thing. MySpace was born, and MySpace ended up being for musicians and it still is out there but nothing like Facebook. Others tried as well, but Facebook always seem to be the one to get the thumbs up from everyone.

MySpaceSo, on June 12, 2007 I joined Facebook (as you can see from my video).  I didn’t really begin posting much until around December of that year when my son Seth got married and I began using it as a photo news site.  Since that time I have posted 1000s of photos on Facebook, including 100s of “selfies” that I have taken from my road trips.  Many photos are with my friends.

Sumoflam with friend Antsy McClain

Sumoflam with friend Antsy McClain – 2013

More importantly though, Facebook has seemingly brought about a new definition of “friend.” A search on Google defines friend as “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations.” My definition of friend is close “a person with a common interest and one with a mutual affectionate relationship.” By affectionate I am not referring to the Touchy Feely kind of affection, but rather a relationship where you see someone or do something with them quite often. But, ironically, for many, some Facebook “friends” may be actually be people we have never met in person. Can you really become a friend with someone you have never met? That is the real gist of this post.

NoStrangersWell, much like my days in high school where I had friends across different spectrums of groups and organizations, I believe that I have been able to do the same thing through social networking whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Google+ or other forms of social networking. Indeed, I have what I would call different layers of friends on Facebook and these other social networks.

FriendPyramidTo be sure, I have a plethora of “friends” from all walks of life….Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Gays, Atheists, Right Wing Tea Party activists and left-leaning politocos, athletes, musicians, artists, photographers, vegans, food junkies, videographers, sports writers, authors, publishers, movie producers, truck drivers, computer nerds.

GoodFriendsNot counting my family “friends” on Facebook, perhaps my first and biggest layer of friends are those individuals with whom I have day to day and/or week to week interpersonal relationships, whether they be through business, church, or other activities that I participate in at this point. These are people that I physically know, that I have seen, that I have shaken hands with or given a hug to.  They may be work associates or friends from booster clubs and other organizations. These are my “close friends.”  I can recall letting work associates that, in many respects, we were like family.  They may have scoffed, but, in reality, we have forged relationships that go deeper than the job.

A "selfie" with my former work colleague and continued friend Colin

A “selfie” with my former work colleague and continued Facebook friend Colin

Visiting with my friend Keith in Idaho.  We served an LDS mission together in Japan and are now Facebook friends nearly 40 years later

Visiting with my friend Keith in Idaho. We served an LDS mission together in Japan and are now Facebook friends nearly 40 years later

Visiting with my friend Froilan from Cebu, Philippines.  We worked together in from 2005-2007 and visited with each other in Lexington in 2013. We are still Facebook friends

Visiting with my friend Froilan from Cebu, Philippines. We worked together in from 2005-2007 and visited with each other in Lexington in 2013. We are still Facebook friends

The next layer is what I would call my “long lost friends.” Hereafter,  I may use first names of many of these individuals, and these will be their real first names. Let’s take Sue for instance. I first met Sue in person in 1973 in Bozeman, MT. She was with her family visiting from New Jersey for a large Airstream Rally. I hung around with Sue and her sister and her family for the few days that they were in town because I was doing a article about the Airstream rally for my high school paper. After they left, we did not have any communication per se. But in 1975, I joined the LDS (Mormon) church and a year later left for my mission to Japan. After I returned from my mission in 1978, I moved to Provo, UT and, on my first weekend in church in Provo, lo and behold, I ran into Sue. It was obviously a shock to her as well because, at the time I met her in Bozeman, I knew nothing about the Mormon church. But she and her family had told me a lot about it because they were very devout members. Needless to say, she had a profound impact on my life and she didn’t even know it. After many years of searching, I finally found her and contacted her via Facebook, in a private message. And we have since become Facebook “friends.” Like me, she has since been married, had children and even had grandchildren. Today we rarely, if at all, communicate, even through Facebook. But Facebook offered us both something that other friendship opportunities may not offer. We get to be a “fly on the wall” of our friends and keep up with them, even when they don’t know it. That is, the opportunity to “lurk” on someone else’s life via their Facebook page.

FlyOnWallLurkingNo the word lurk is an unusual word. In computerese it basically means “to read or observe an ongoing discussion without participating in it.” In the past it seems to have referred to something a little bit on the shady side, something that was a bit secretive. But for a site like Facebook many friends do their lurking via the now well known “News Feed.”

NewsfeedI have a lot of “friends” and not a lot of time to read all of their posts.  So, occasionally I “drop in” on them and see what is going on.  If I like a post or a photo I will add a thumbs up so that they know I had dropped in.  I see many of those as well from “lurkers’ to my Facebook page.

ThumbsUpBack to my friends….  Indeed, I have rekindled friendships from the past such as with Pat and Sam from Bozeman, Maggie and Penny from Salt Lake, John and JP from Cebu, Gerhard (from Germany but now lives in Singapore) and Mark (from Lexington but now in Singapore), friends from Japan, Puerto Rico, China, Ireland, Australia and more.  It is fun to keep up with all of them.

Social Media Friends

Social Media Friends

I then have that thick layer…general acquaintances…friends of my children, people I have met along the way like Samantha and Lindsey from Camp 31 BBQ in Paris, Ontario or Lori from the March Madness Marching Band in Lexington (after I shared dozens of photos from parades in Lexington) high school coaches I met through an employer, people that want to share a part of their lives.

AcquaintancesThen comes the most interesting layer of all…the “Social Media” friends.  These are people I have met online or have become acquainted with through other common friends or interests.  Some of them I eventually met, like my friend Mari, a struggling author in Lexington; Dan, a Lexington photographer; or Ione from California (another Trailer Park Troubadours fan whom I met on a Troubs’ cruise).  Others I have become good friends with and communicate with at least weekly, such as Ed in California (who came to me through Antsy McClain and has since discovered our myriad joint interests), Michael from Georgetown, TX (another Troubs fan) or Tui from Dallas who writes a travel blog about quirky places and is currently publishing a book or even Doug (from Somewhereville, USA) who runs the Roadside America website.  And there are dozens more that have “friended” me for one reason or another.

The World is Smaller

The World is Smaller

So, on the week of Facebook’s 10th birthday, we can thank Mark Zuckerburg and his friends for their ingenious way of making the world smaller and having (in general) a profoundly positive impact on the world.  I know that Facebook (and my other Social Media sites) have really provided me with a richer outlook on life and the world I live in.

And to thank you for being a friend I am going to use one of my favorite musicians from 40 years ago – Andrew Gold

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