Some holidays seemed designed with sports in mind. Thanksgiving dinners are timed around the day's football games. Memorial Day and Fourth of July barbecues just aren't the same without a baseball game playing in the background.
Easter is not exactly a sports holiday, which is to say that Easter is in absolutely no way a sports holiday, unless you consider hunting (for plastic eggs) a sport.
The problem with Easter not being a sports holiday is that, well, the holiday falls on a Sunday where there are always sporting events to watch. Last year was yet another holiday where the Resurrection coincided with the final round of the Masters. Thankfully, golf fans will have at least five years before that scheduling blunder happens again.
This year, sports fans—particularly those of us who follow a different or no religion but still find ourselves being in attendance at a traditional Easter meal this Sunday—will have an altogether different sports problem: Easter Madness.
With Sunday's Elite Eight games tipping off at 2:30 p.m. ET and 5:00 p.m. ET, many an Easter dinner has the potential to be spoiled by college basketball. At least with golf, by the time dinner is served, there are usually only a few players in the mix, making it relatively easy to catch every shot while not disrespecting your hosts, spouse or, you know, Jesus.
But basketball?!? How can you miss two games that decide the Final Four? You can't, that's how!
Here are a few life-saving tips for catching all the Madness without looking like the jerk who ruined Easter and has to sleep on the couch until Christmas.
The Preemptive Strike
There's not much you can do to get out of going to a family function, but if you drop hints from the moment you wake up that you are having stomach pains, regular trips to the bathroom wouldn't look all that out of the ordinary. Not to mention, nobody ever calls out the guy running to the bathroom five or six times in a day for how long he spends in there.
This option does involve some detailed planning. Feigning a stomach ailment the night before could help the believability on the day in question, but any potential gastronomical difficulties must not come at the expense of daily chores. Toughing it out to help the kids get ready can only give you more rope later in the day.
Now, if the dinner is at your house, this method is easy, as you can stash your tablet in the bathroom—in a cabinet or between the magazines—to watch the games from there. If you go to another person's house, the plan may need more coordination. Prior knowledge of all bathroom and television locations could help with any logistical snafus. Or, if all else fails, go with your phone. (More on that later.)
If the trips to the bathroom are starting to seem suspicious, taking a few minutes to "lie down" could get you in front of a TV without much trouble. You just need to make sure you don't pretend to be too sick to make the whole family leave before dinner, dessert or the Easter egg hunt. That would be a sin…perhaps literally.
The Easter Egg Hunt
With the games not starting until the afternoon on the East Coast, there is ample time to make yourself as useful as possible before the games start.
Offer to hide the eggs for the annual Easter egg hunt, but hide them so well that nobody can find them all. That should occupy the kids and other adults for so long that you would be able to sneak inside to watch the game and nobody will even notice you are gone.
To up the ante on this idea, hide a few real eggs around the house, too, making it imperative for everyone to find them before the house needs to be fumigated.
The Random Room Pop-in
This is a pretty viable plan, even if you can't see every minute of the games. When you first get to the house, put on the TVs in every bedroom and non-dining room, with the sound on mute. That way, the game should be on no matter what room you enter, enabling you to watch a few minutes at a time while pretending to listen to your great uncle talk about his turnip farm.
Those adept at more advanced room pop-ins can plan where they sit in accordance to any mirrors or reflective surfaces in the area, making it possible to watch the game without even looking at or, in some cases, being in the same room as the TV.
Let Others Fight Your Battles
The first game starts at 2:30 p.m., which should give you plenty of time to convince your uncle/grandfather to put the game on. Then, if the TV just happens to be on as everyone is sitting down for dinner, nobody can blame you when it doesn't get turned off.
If you play your cards right, the old curmudgeon you convinced to turn the game on will fight the battle to leave the game on for you, just out of principle. Nobody tells old dudes what to do, so you will get the game on the TV without any of the backlash.
Pay A Kid
When all else fails, pay your nephew or niece to beg to put the game on. Make sure to ration the payout to more than one kid, as there is safety in numbers. Pay extra money for tears.
This may be the most viable option, as parents and grandparents will almost always do whatever makes the kids shut up the fastest. Just be careful this plan doesn't backfire on you. If you get a few kids on the payroll, there is no guarantee they will keep your secret.
Moreover, there's an absolute certainty one or more of the kids will get bored with basketball within minutes and demand a kid's show, completely ruining your entire plan. If you decide to pay a kid, make sure it's done within the proper in-game window.
Mobile, Mobile, Mobile.
March Madness Live is a great product, enabling viewers to watch games on tablets and mobile devices. One doesn't even need to go through all the nonsense above if you don't mind watching games on a phone.
Just remember, the games are each two hours long, so bring a charger and extra batteries. Being unprepared could lead to a late-game disaster.
The Work Card
This only works for a few of us, but it's the holiday equivalent of a get out of jail free card.
"Honey, I have to watch this for work."
While that usually only works with sports media folks, and specifically basketball writers, it can work for the layperson as well. (Note: For those who are writing or talking about the game for actual work, remember to use the trump card with your spouse or family of, "Hey, at least I'm here and not in Indianapolis or Dallas right now." You can't use this too often, but holidays are the best time to try.)
For those not in sports, figure out a way to blame your boss. Drop a few hints this weekend about how your boss invited you over to watch the games on Saturday, but you didn't want to spend time away from the family. Mention how much your boss seems to care about college hoops this year and that you want to make sure to keep an eye on things because you don't want to look like an idiot on Monday if you missed anything.
See if you can get your boss to send you a few innocuous texts during the day, like, "Did you see that play?" or "Wow, that guy can dunk." Also, send your boss a few back because, surely, he's either using you in a similar gambit with his family or he really is a hoops-crazed degenerate who will quiz you on what happened in the games.
Let's hope something here helps. Leave your (successful) ideas in the comments.