Category Essays

49 entries

The Beautiful Season

It is designed to do a lot of things, but it certainly is not designed to break your heart. The game begins in the late autumn, when everything else has shriveled and fallen and died. Its blossoms come slowly in winter's course like crocus starts popping through icefields. And when it does stop, it ...

The Mid-Majority vs. Restatements of Theme

This is 1 in a series of 10 early-season essays.The ball makes no secret of itself; to grasp full control requires both hands. The primary instrument of our game announces its presence loudly - to maneuver the ball across the playfield is to print it repeatedly against the wood court with typewriter...

The Mid-Majority vs. Success

This is 2 in a series of 10 early-season essays.I think we can all agree that progress is a good thing: forward is preferable to back, and up is a hell of a lot better than down. Progress is all about development, advancement, evolution. If you examine our history as a planet, you'll notice that a...

The Mid-Majority vs. Total Chaos

This is 3 in a series of 10 early-season essays.In 1891, as James Naismith considered the equation of ball and hoop, a French physicist named Henri Poincaré was contemplating a similar issue involving roundish objects. Kepler's laws of planetary motion had only dealt with the orbit of one pla...

The Mid-Majority vs. Quality

This is 4 in a series of 10 early-season essays.With five seconds remaining in overtime, the home team was down by a single point. A packed and sweltering arena roared. The wise old coach, a veteran of these tense situations, quickly drew up a play during the final timeout and sent his charges back ...

The Mid-Majority vs. Hoop Operas

This is 5 in a series of 10 early-season essays.It was a dark and stormy night. The villain, sweater-vested and scowling, paced the floor. Boo! Hiss! the audience cried. But just then, the mood was leavened by a comic-relief appearance of the drunk clown, teetering and leering at girls half his age ...

The Mid-Majority vs. The Age Limit

This is 6 in a series of 10 early-season essays.There are 4,484 young men currently playing Division I college basketball for 334 schools. These players come of all shapes, sizes and ability levels. Some are thin, some are fat, some think they'll wear a draft-night hat. Some are far and some are nea...

Dedication

First, this. In mid-August, I was inside a cube-shaped Pilot Travel Center alongside an otherwise barren and remote stretch of northern Pennsylvania. That's where I met someone who might be the tallest truck stop employee in America. He must have been about 6-foot-8, at the very least. The mop he p...

Specialness

There's an annual event -- if that's a phrase suitable and grey enough to describe something that doesn't cut it as a tradition -- here in our household. Every year around this time, the satellite television company beams in a solid week of unlimited American professional basketball in a free previe...

The Struggle

Mid-major universities tend to fall in one of three categories. There are the expensive and tiny religious schools in remote and leafy locations, flame-keepers of Christian subsects born out of the Great Schisms. You have your specialized colleges: the teacher's schools, the agriculture and mining i...

Your Opinion Is Important

The New Hampshire boarding school I attended is located on a remote hilltop, in a broadcast television dead-spot and a half-hour's walk from the nearest cash register. Back in the 1980's, before WiFi brought the world together, our only contact points with the real world were the radio and the Bosto...

Hockey and Me

In 1995, five years into my stay out in Oregon, I became homesick for the opposite coast, the one I grew up on. The feeling started as confusion and frustration, which grew into a acute sense of not belonging, culminating in a crystalline realization. I missed hockey. My New York Rangers had won th...

Of 20-Sided Dice, and Quant-Based Analysis

Here's another story we won't have time for later. When I was 12, I went through a phase that most failed child prodigies go through, the fitful burst of youthful creativity and frustration that comes right before the realization that girls are interesting. For me, it manifested itself in a short-li...

Sports Blogs, R.I.P. (2004-07)

Before throwing the switch, he gathered his thoughts in the virtual darkness, choosing his words carefully. He didn't know who was out there on the other side -- who his audience would be, whether or not he would be able to find one. If an audience for someone like him even existed. This was somethi...

Living Without Football

It was an easygoing, unassuming late-summer Saturday in Rhode Island. I had completed my weekend house-husband chores (saving the stinky litter boxes for last, as usual), then prepared for a long, languid afternoon of relaxation on the patio. I contemplated the birdfeeder, turning out a few chamber-...

Changes Around Here

Once upon a time there was a tiny little cell, one among a million billion, sloshing and sliding inside a gigantic and vibrant and heaving body. The tiny little cell did its tiny little job as well as it tiny little could, and during its time off it had fun bouncing around with other tiny little lik...

The Red Line

It's never going to end. We might try to fight it, we may try to ignore it, but every year it's going to come back. I'm talking, of course, about the endless debate of what a "mid-major" is and what one isn't. Within the past few weeks, we've had weigh-ins here, here, here and on countless blogs. W...

The Big Picture

First in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season. It's not supposed to work out for the best, and the system is designed to anticipate failure. On March 21 in Birmingham, the four lower seeds wore their extra digits like anchors, eliminated one after another...

Goliath

Second in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season. This being the first Sunday of The Mid-Majority's Season 5 (and a Daylight Savings-adjusted morning upon which thousands of churchgoers will miss their services), it's as good a time as any for a Bible story...

Conduit

Third in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season. New technology always takes time to find its proper place, to soak into the mainstream. Over three centuries passed before the printing press changed from a luxury item for the powerful into a tool of the pe...

Ambition

Fourth in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season. If you're just now dropping by and don't know what this is all about, this site is all about going to mid-major college basketball games. A lot of them. I attended 117 total games last year, and I've been to...

Bias

Fifth in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season. In case you haven't heard, our great nation recently concluded a long and protracted and polarizing popularity contest that decided, among other things, our heads of state and guiding ideologies for the fore...

Packer

Sixth in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season. Here in early November, we're still at least a month away from the non-stop barrage of "Year In Review" specials, all those tidy bow-snapping recaps that attempt to impose order on a loosely-joined, selectiv...

Sportsguy

Seventh in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season. For a nation that takes its freedom so seriously, we sure are confused about it. Our society is rigidly segmented and specialized, everyone must find their place. From parental career projections to colleg...

Book

Eighth in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season.Since the invention of the printing press and discovery of binding, it's been the dream of everyone who strings words together to write a book. A longform work of 80 or 100 thousand words that can be touched,...

Next

Ninth in a series of nine daily essays leading up to the 2008-09 college basketball season. I have no Wikipedia entry of my own, not even a stub. If I understand the process correctly, you have to be either rich or a character on The Simpsons to get one of those. Being neither, and therefore not su...

The Sports Bubble

INDIANAPOLIS -- We are on the cusp of a wonderful new chapter in American history. Our great nation will once again be a place of logic and reason, a country where simple answers don't cut it, where perpetual double-digit percentage growth is no longer expected nor demanded, where an enterprise's t...

That Teenage Feeling

Over the past decade or so, the National Association of Basketball Coaches has been pushing a concept called "Guardians of the Game." You may recall a preseason tourney played under that banner in recent years, and maybe your favorite coach was given a prestigious award of the same name (a GOGgy?). ...

Sportz Make You Stupid

Sports are great. Actual participation is awesome, but watching other people do sports is still pretty good. These days, anybody can watch sports without being there at all -- anytime, anywhere and in any state of undress they choose. This is truly the age of miracles and wonders, and it's all thank...

Failures of Imagination

Back in the late 1990's, I was one of those people who thought that the internet would save the world from itself. I honestly believed that limitless information would lead to limitless knowledge, and that our new generation of enlightened master thinkers would transcend manipulation. What I didn't...

...And Then We Moved The Capital

Dayton, you had a good run. There are so many reasons why the Birthplace of Aviation was the first capital of Hoops Nation. No other place can match its fan awesomeness-to-population ratio; the University of Dayton Arena will always be packed, no matter if the Flyers are 28-1 or 1-28. Since the At...

Emotional Investments

Do you mind if I talk baseball? Just for a second. This is a decidedly American League Central-centric website. I've been a supporter of the Twins since I discovered baseball in 1983. Our new compatriot Damon Lewis, who you'll meet next week if you haven't already, is a lifelong Tigers fan. So it ...

The ESPN Years

History, as Winston Churchill famously said, is written by the victors. I believe that maxim only holds true for the quick, easily-understood sweeps of human affairs, the kind in schoolbooks and on multiple-choice tests. Interesting failures have more to teach us about the trajectories of empires an...

The Old Ways

I've often wished that college basketball would somehow become a year-round pursuit, that it would stop disappearing in April and returning in November. (Or, for some, the following March.) But not like this. I don't remember a summer with so much college basketball news. Our Game never left the na...

Prologue: The Constellations

"It is not surprising that after a long period of searching and erring, some of the concepts and ideas in human thinking should have come gradually closer to the fundamental laws of this world, that some of our thinking should reveal the true structure of atoms and the true movements of stars." - Victor Frederick...

This Is A Business

A common question people ask: why don't I fill this site with team and conference previews in early November? Shouldn't I use my extensive knowledge of mid-major college basketball for the common good? The easy answer: all that stuff can be found elsewhere. I did a 1,400-word flyover for this month's Basketball...

On(,) Writing

The late Thomas Rubick, my dear friend, professor and sensei, had a unified theory of communication technology. When a utility matures, he said, once a superior thing surpasses its functional usefulness as a tool, the old tool is more free to act as a conduit for art. He first told me of this idea back in 1996,...

I. Laughter Of The Gods

Humility is knowing who you are -- not thinking too highly of yourself, but also not thinking too little of yourself. Simply put, it means having sober judgment. Do you know who you are as a player on the floor? At the start of a college basketball season, it's all free chaos and beautiful possibility. During...

II. Warm Blood

Passion is all about being vibrant and eager to put forth the effort. Are you hungry to compete and excel, and enthusiastic about the opportunity to do so? Will you be passionate when you don't feel like it? On November 25, 2008, two days before Thanksgiving, Davidson College hosted Loyola of Maryland in the...

III. All Of Us Each Of Us

Unity is best illustrated by this adage: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Basketball, more than any other sport, is one in which a team can come together and achieve greatness without having the greatest individual talents.Before George Mason, there was no George Mason. No team from a small Division...

IV. Sacrificial Lions

Servanthood is knowing your role and sacrificing as needed to make your teammates better. It's a key element of team unity and greatness. It involves having a servant's mentality when it comes to your team. Will you truly give of yourself to make your team better? Manny Ohonme once shared a letter with me he'd...

V. Grace, Too

Thankfulness involves being truly grateful when things go well. But equally or perhaps more important is to be thankful for what you learn in the hard times, and to have the wisdom to grow from them.Before Jim Larranaga became the head men's basketball coach at George Mason in 1997, he roamed the sidelines at...

Prologue: All of Us vs. Each of Us

CHICAGO, October 30 -- About a year ago, George Mason head coach Jim Larranaga called. "Thanks for writing that nice article about our 2006 team," went the voicemail. Five months later, on the morning of the National Championship game, over breakfast in the lobby of the downtown Hilton in Houston, I took the opportunity...

Hearts of Lions

Anyone who's read this site knows that we don't put much stock in the old saw that "sports are an escape from real life." On the contrary: sports are played, coached, and officiated by real people. Fans experience real joy and real despair. And the ugly business of sports is suffused with real money serving real...

Unbeaten and Unknown

In many respects, though it was a full quarter-century before the creation of midmajority.com, the 1978-79 college basketball season would have to be considered the season of the mid-majority. That year's Final Four included three outstanding teams that I believe the Mid-Majority Institute of Basketball Research...

Family Matters

The wheels began to come off with a four-point play. As Penn's Eric Osmundson rose up for a three pointer on the right wing, Princeton's Andre Logan came charging into his chest. The ball swished through the net. The packed Palestra crowd erupted. The seemingly insurmountable Princeton lead that had been as much...

The Final Prologue

Approximately five months from now, this website will officially cease to be. Kaput. Gonzo. Curtains. Peace out Trout. ‘Til then (Delaware Fightin’ Blue) Hen.   No two ways about it, it’s sad. If you’re reading this, it’s likely that the Mid-Majority played a significant role...

Little Bits of History Repeating

Like I said: I don’t really know how I got here. That’s true in a more literal sense, too. I can’t remember where or why I first clicked on a link to the Mid-Majority, but my best guess is that it happened sometime late in Season 3. Fittingly, I was probably...

Love and Basketball

As the years go by, the memories get dimmer, but I still remember a lot about my first college basketball game. I remember attending the game with two friendly girls who lived in the apartment next door, whose names I've long forgotten. I remember not getting to the arena until almost halftime. I remember feeling...

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David & Goliath: A Love Story

A new underdog book about disadvantage, survival, justice and probabilities by Kyle Whelliston, coming late 2019 Q2.