Wednesday, March 19, 2014

19/31 March Madness In Perspective

I love college basketball.  For me, the best part of football season is that it brings basketball season closer. I watch LOTS of games, read posts on CBS, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, etc.  I talk with my sons and kids at school about games all the time. I'm pretty sure that there are boys who will tell their kids the best way to get Mrs. Day off topic in class was to bring up college hoops.

Particularly, my Iowa Hawkeyes.

It's no secret in the sports world that my Hawks took a nose dive at the end of the season. Like many others, I was often vocal in my opinion what was "wrong", what needed to be done, and why they lost another game they shouldn't have.

But then something happened that put the game into perspective.

Our coach, Fran McCaffrey, has four kids. His 13-year-old, Patrick, has a tumor on his thyroid that was discovered in early March.  They couldn't determine if the tumor was malignant or benign. Surgery to remove the tumor was scheduled for today, March 19th.  They will have to test it.

Sunday, known as Selection Sunday to college basketball fans, the Hawkeyes made the tournament as a play-in team, meaning they have to win to get in the field of 64. There was grumbling among some Hawk fans about the end of the season slide and how that "ruined" any seeding they had a chance at.


Until the news began getting around that Patrick's surgery was scheduled the same day as that game. Coach McCaffrey would, of course, be with his son. He flew with the team Monday to Dayton, Ohio where the game would be played, flew home Tuesday night to be with his family today. IF all went well, he would fly back to Dayton after surgery.

And suddenly, the game didn't matter.

Suddenly, it became "just a game" in the greater scheme of things and Hawk fans rallied around the coach and his family. Today, there have been tweets and Facebook posts from people everywhere. Opposing coaches, NBA players, sports writers and fans. There was even a hashtag  #teampat   all in support of a young man most don't know.  

Updates this afternoon let us know that Patrick's surgery went well. He is in good spirits (and my guess is, told his dad to go coach and get a win)

But, I won't watch tonight's game with the same attitude that I usually do. Tonight, I'll hug the grandkids who are staying with us, thankful they are healthy and thankful the rest are too. Tonight, I'll watch a game. And no matter the outcome, it won't be as important as the outcome of the tests on a young man's tumor.


  1. I am always moved by fans, players, coaches, and other professionals who demonstrate the real meaning of sportsmanship in moments like this. I have the fickleness of life and death on my mind, too, so this hit my heart just perfectly. Love the way you evolve throughout the piece.

  2. This really does bring life into right perspective! Hoping that the coach Fran's son will be okay.

  3. We are big U Conn fans in my house! I will keep coach McCaffery's son in my thoughts and prayers. The thought of facing a child's cancer is terrifying enough, but to have to do it publicly? Beyond my imagination. The game didn't matter, indeed.

  4. This story makes us all realize that life is precious and the games do not matter. Such a difficult time for Coach McCaffrey and his family.
    (PS - My daughter will be a Hawkeye this fall!)

  5. I am a basketball fan myself - sorry about your team's loss (and I say that sincerely even though I am from TN). Hopefully the coach had the biggest win of the day, though. I pray his son's surgery will result in his return to full and complete health. Such a great writing slice, bringing out so much empathy in the (this) reader.