Little Monsters in YMCA basketball uniforms

The 59th Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Basketball Tournament has begun and school children all over the state of North Carolina a) have been pulled out of school by their parents and are attending the games, b) did not show up to school and nobody inquired or will inquire as to why, c) painted themselves light blue, dark blue, red, or black & gold on the bus, or d) are waiting impatiently while their teacher rolls a TV into their classroom and finds the Raycom-Jefferson Sports Network. Today the Teacher’s Lounge will double as a Mosh Pit.

You know you’ve reached a certain age when you begin sentences with the phrase, “It’s just not like the way it use to be…”, but in this case it really isn’t the way it use to be, and what use to be was so much better it’s a real shame that it has been lost to gonzo TV football money. Well, money… (credit: Woody Allen). The 2005 ACC expansion (and the coming 2012-2013 one) left the old brilliant shine of the basketball conference in shambles.

The ACC was founded in 1953 with Clemson, Duke, Maryland, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, and Wake Forest. Shortly after, Virginia joined the conference, completing the original ACC teams list. South Carolina left in 1971 and Georgia Tech joined in 1978, ushering in a golden era from 1978-1991 when each of the eight southeastern teams played the other twice during the regular season and any lingering questions were answered in the ACC Tournament, which was always played in Greensboro back in the day.

There is something religious and zealous about ACC basketball. It’s like a weekly Civil War re-enactment, pitting brother against brother, father against son, husband against wife, friend against friend. If it weren’t for a common love of cheap beer, North Carolina would most likely be in flames the majority of December – March. It is impossible to underestimate its impact on the daily life of the Old North State.

I seem to recall a certain ACC All-Star Game that use to be played in Greensboro after the season ended as well. One year our YMCA basketball teams, The Ramrods (I’m not making this up — The Ramrods), were given the privilege of doing goofy lay up drills during half time of the ACC All Star Game, which was awesome because you were first in line to get autographs! We were forced to wear these bright neon green head bands. They were glow in the dark and the idea was that they would dim arena lights and everybody would get to watch glowing green bands bob around in the dark. It was the 1970s so I’m sure you understand the good intentions here, but ¬†of course they didn’t work, the lights were cut back on, and everybody could see us miss our layups.

Man, it’s just not the way it use to be. GO HEELS!