March Madness - More than Just Basketball
All of you aunties who are sports fans will know what I’m talking about.
March marks the advent of one of the most electrifying and anticipated
times of the year in sports--The Big Dance.
basketball, March is the month of reckoning. Teams all over the country
vie for a spot in the biggest and most important tournament of the year.
Gutting it out on the hardwoods, they battle to make it to the Final
Four and ultimately, be crowned the year’s National Champions.
compile their fields of sixty-four, fill out their brackets and gather
together to cheer on their favorite teams. Oh yes, it's time for March
Madness, auntie! And this is a perfect time to bond with your nieces and
my own family, we bleed Villanova University blue and white. My Dad and
brother graduated from Villanova and I did my graduate work there. For
my family, the tournament is much more than a basketball contest. It is a
In the book, "New Traditions: Redefining
Celebrations for Today's Family," Susan Lieberman says, "Family
traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we
are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing
How true! Traditions are the threads from which our
remarkable family tapestries are weaved. They evoke comfort, bind us
together, and create a sense of belonging and predictability.
Mourning a Loved One
for those mourning a loved one, when it comes time to celebrate a
family custom, the ritual is often not met with the same level of
enthusiasm as in years past.
I saw this first hand when I was
working with a young family whose father died of cancer. As the baseball
season drew near, the boys seemed particularly down. During one of my
bereavement visits, their Mom expressed her concern. "They love baseball
but this year they seem lukewarm about the upcoming season. I don’t
Just as I suspected, the boys and their father
had shared some traditions centered on baseball season. This would be
the first year he wouldn’t be around to maintain those long held
father-son bonding routines. They found themselves often saying, "This
time last year…" Once I helped the boys process what they were feeling, I
encouraged them to clue in their Mom. Doing so provided her the insight
she needed to better understand their tepid dispositions and as a bonus
sparked a conversation about she could help.
New Twists on the Old
adding new twists to old traditions is the perfect way to acknowledge
things are different without abandoning the traditions altogether.
of whether you’re looking to establish new family traditions or for
variations on the old, here are some suggestions for ways to get your
nieces and nephews involved in a fun-filled time of the year:
- Make a favorite family dinner on Selection Sunday (for those looking
to remember a loved one, consider making their favorite dish) and invite
your nieces and nephews.
- Discuss bracket selections together (a sports savvy auntie could be a terrific surrogate in the absence of a parent).
- Fill out a family bracket together and chose someone to update it as the tournament progresses.
- Make t-shirts with your favorite team’s colors or mascot.
It's Not Just about Basketball
past few years, our family has gathered for a big Italian dinner on
Selection Sunday. We dine, laugh and rib each other about whose teams
made it to the big dance and whose will be sitting at home.
the casual observer it might appear that for us it’s all about
basketball. But basketball is simply the foundation upon which we build
another celebrated family tradition. March Madness is a wellspring. It
is rich with opportunities to make new memories for your family
Whether you’re grieving the loss of a loved one or
simply looking for ways to enrich your relationships with your nieces
and nephews, take a look around for opportunities during March Madness,
it’s not really just about basketball.
Stephanie Baffone, LPCMH, NCC is an expert on love and loss.
Photo: Wavebreak Media Ltd
Originally Published: March 14, 2010
Republished: March 1, 2017