American Wife Interviews British Hubby About March Madness
BY Patrice Poltzer & Olly Jones, who are married and still trying to convert the other more to thier side of the pond
It is that time of year again. The time of year where any iota of professional and or personal ambition takes 895 steps backwards. March Madness can sabotage anyone...even a fair-weather sports lady like myself. I have watched approximately zero basketball games since the end of March Madness 2018, but like clockwork, the season comes to a start and it’s like I’m a born-again die-hard basketball fan. Bucky Badger comes ALL out. I predictably hate Duke with an inner rage and I don’t mind if the TV is turned to sports for ALL the hours. If March Madness can do this to me, it can be done to anyone. I asked my British husband what he thought about all this madness.
P.P: So lets talk basketball!
O.J: What did you do with my wife?
P.P Very funny. Ok so do you remember when you first heard about March Madness?
O.J: It was in 2005 when I was working for American Express in London.
PP: And didn’t even know me yet! You poor thing
O.J: Perhaps... This American guy in the office asked me if I wanted to get in on a bracket. In England, we don’t have brackets.
P.P: So you guys don’t ever bet on games? So proper.
O.J : We do, but you just wander down to our local bookie and place bets - almost every high street has one.
P.P: Ha, YOU had a bookie?! Were you like a Brit Bad boy in your “lost years”....
O.J: Lost years? It would be grandiose to refer to my annual ten pound flutter as qualifying to have my own bookie. It’s like walking into a deli store - they’re everywhere, out in the open.
P.P I assume the years you were not with me you felt very lost.
O.J (laughs). Oh yes...I was very lost being single in London. Very hard. But back to your questions, bookies are not illegal in England. But I filled out this bracket and I didn’t even watch a game. so I just thought the whole thing a bit odd. How naive I was….
P.P Ok tell me more.
O.J: Fast forward to March, 2011 or as you would say my “found years” when we were living in Manhattan, I watched almost the entire tournament in a bar
P.P: OMG you say bar now!?! You’re Americanzing
O.J: Ugh...damnit. I mean I went to the pub and experienced my first March Madness game. Without sounding over the top, how do I say that it was a life-altering experience.
P.P: Was I there? Why don’t I remember
O.J: I don’t think you were
P.P: I wonder what I was doing… are you sure you’re not talking about the time you met my college friends in Chicago and we watched the games in a bar and you couldn’t believe Beth carried around a print out sheets of all her brackets and basically none of my girlfriends would talk during a game?!
O.J :Nope - too much in sports these days is predictable or played out over a best of seven series, so upsets get minimized. Here, I saw three upsets in an afternoon! Whether or not you were into the sport of basketball (which I somewhat was), you can’t help love that as a sports fan
P.P: College...basketball?? Did you ever think you would be into something like that?
O.J: I knew US college sports were big but it’s taken me a long time to get into them as there's just so many teams. I will say I’m much more into the tournament than I am into college basketball year round. This year I’ve watched one game prior to the tournament - Duke vs UNC.
P.P: Why doesn’t college basketball exist in the UK?
O.J: Patrice, I PLAYED college basketball at college in the UK - which should also tell you that it pretty much doesn’t exist.
P.P: Omg that’s right. Oops
O.J: We have college sports, but they embrace the amateur concept still and don't operate in this controversial gap between amateur and professional. By I digress - this is whole other topic.
P.P: Is basketball in general that big of a deal in general in the UK? EVEN THOUGH YOU PLAYED IT?
O.J: It goes through phases - NBA games sell out when they visit (like NFL does), but the domestic league finds it very hard to sustain. Schools in certain areas of the country play it and we've had NBA players, but not enough for it to overtake football or rugby
P.P: You mean soccer.
O.J: I mean football.
P.P: So what do you like about college basketball then?
O.J: I like the vulnerability and emotion of the college game… kids panic and make mistakes, they hit crazy hot streaks of performance beyond the capabilities of a professional player that frankly finds it hard to reach the same level of euphoria about the game after an 80+ game season. Plus, a lot of these guys are seniors and are not going pro, this is literally the pinnacle and end of their career.
P.P: What do you love most about March Madness now that you are a full convert?
O.J: The first few days of the tournament when there's multiple games on different screens in the bar and everyone gravitates to the TV where a potential upset is brewing. It’s so great. I love the fact that no one has ever got a perfect bracket - EVER. Amazing, right? Millions are filled out every year. Sports are best when they're unpredictable.
P.P: Do you think your UK friends here and at home are getting more into it now?
O.J: I know for a fact they are, some have sent me their brackets
P.P: So you are a dad to TWO AMAZING BOYS ...do they take after their mom? Don’t answer that… OK for real, March Madness and parenting...and you’re one of the most involved dads that I know on a daily basis how do you manage each year.
O.J: hmmm - parent badly? Ha.. Well this year is going to be really fun because Jenson is obsessed with your Wisconsin Badgers, he’s really into the mascot thing: “Dad, how can a Duck beat a Badger?” I’m already talking to both the boys about the colleges and we go play basketball so I am going to get them involved this year. I’m actually more excited for March Madness because of the boys
P.P: Any favorite watching memories aside from your first time….because I’m realizing I wasn’t there so wonder if there’s a correlation?!
O.J.: Aside from missing you that first time, the run that Loyola-Chicago made last year. A school with a old nun cheering them on with no real sporting pedigree, it was amazing to watch.
P.P: If you win your bracket what amazing gift do you think you’ll get me?
O.J: You think I’ll tell you if I win it?? Just see if I have any new trainers in the next few weeks
P.P: Are you rooting for a team?
OJ: Badgers (even though they’re fairly dull to watch - their highlight reel literally has bounce passes in it) and UNC
P.P: Anything else you’d like to say
OJ: Can I go to the PUB now?