Johnson’s March Madness

How many years have we been doing brackets John? “This is our seventh year” he says, not even having to think. “We started just with paper brackets, the first year Florida won, and then went to the computer for the last four.” he continued. “My bracket is screwed already, well at least a quarter of it is, thanks to that darn Wichita State.” I laugh and roll my eyes. I of course have never won the Johnson March Madness tournament. John won last year, in 2010 it was Grampa Darrell, in 2009 Scotty took the winners bracket and Isaac claims 2008 although no one has proof.

This is one of those crazy things you do one year for fun, and then another year and now we have a huge tradition and competition. It is a dollar to play and winner takes all(which is sometimes $12.00). We have always been a basketball family. It is the one sport all of us love. My parents, my sister, her husband, and the six of us Johnson’s smack talk it up for a week before. There are plots and sub plots, private jokes and family allegiances. Heated arguments and lots of “I told you so” moments. Last minute changes, Jessie getting advice from her brothers, Isaac taking control of the scoring and all this before the games begin.

Today was the first big day of the tournament. Today and tomorrow we have the most upsets. Screams of excitement, and muffled swearing fill the house, car or text lines, as our picks are upset or winners as we predicted. I love it. I love that my parents are in Arizona right now, my sister in Washington, my husband in Eugene, and the five of us here in Bend are all watching and cheering and groaning over basketball. I love the bond that is created between the generations, the siblings, the immediate family and the larger nucleus.

I usually pick the long shots and lose immediately. Scotty has a strong loyalty to the Pac 12 and John is the thinker of the game. Christian watches the most college basketball out of all of us and though he has yet to win, I think he has the most basketball knowledge. Bubba, my sister’s husband usually goes for his alma-matter and some other random choices that make us laugh. Grampa Darrell, and Grandma Janet, usually put in a good run. Grandma has never won, it may be due to the fact the she sometimes chooses her teams based on whether she likes the coach or the coaches wife but still she tries. Isaac is the math man and is very calculated in his choices, not one to pick very many upsets but does risk just enough to keep him on the edge.

This is that crazy time of year where anything can happen and it usually does. It is a time of great expectation, disappointment, beating the odds and the sharing in the joy of a simple game. It is not about the money, it is about shared experiences and leaving it all out on the court. I hope our family will be doing the Johnson March Madness for generations to come. Hey, they may even be able to say “Remember that year that mom won?” “Yea, me either.”


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