My girlfriend doesn’t know anything about basketball.
She’s generally repulsed by sports in general—but basketball, more than the others, she just isn’t into.
I, on the other hand, am a basketball junkie—especially college basketball. I don’t really watch the NBA that much anymore because I don’t believe it’s a good product, but that’s another story.
Throughout this basketball season I’ve been trying to stir up interest in my girlfriend to at least watch a game or show the least bit of interest in something I’m interested in, but it has all been to no avail. She just doesn’t like it. I was reserved to the fact that she just wasn’t going to care about basketball.
I recalled the advice of a man I met who told me he was about to celebrate his 60th wedding anniversary. I asked him what the secret to a long marriage was. He told me that you should never try to change your partner. If anything, you should consider changing yourself whenever possible.
Now, I was definitely not going to change my outlook on my passion for basketball, but I resolved that it wasn’t that important.
Enter the 2011 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. This, for me, is the greatest time of the year.
I love it not only for the competition, but for the chance to fill out my tournament pool sheet and predict how the 68-team tournament will unfold. This, for most men I know, is not only a spring ritual, but a badge of honor to be able to pick the games correctly.
I knew I would be glued to the couch four-straight days at the tournament’s start, so I decided to see if I could get my girlfriend to fill out a tournament pool, just so she could follow along and understand what I was going through.
After explaining to her that you don’t need to know anything about basketball to pick the winners, she reluctantly accepted. She let me know her picks over the phone to which I agreed with some and giggled inside at others considering the absurdity of the upset wins she was predicting.
Her methodology included not picking Old Dominion because they had a stupid name and not picking Purdue because her ex-stepsister went there.
At the tournament’s start, she correctly predicted upset wins by Richmond and Morehead State and after day one, she picked 15 out of 16 correct. By day two, she was 28 for 32, easily destroying everyone in the tournament pool—all 25 of which are cocky, macho men who do nothing but eat, sleep and drink basketball.
How could this happen? How does an English lit teacher who until recently never heard of a three-point shot out-pick the boy's club? In short, God has a sick sense of humor.
This is not the first time I’ve encountered beginner’s luck when it comes to women and girlfriends. I’ve had everything happen from girlfriend’s who hate gambling kill it on the Black Jack tables, to girls who didn’t know the difference between a race horse and a hobby horse picking winners at the race track. These moments are almost always followed by an “I told you so” because I, in my infinite wisdom, have leaned towards laughing off their ridiculous prognostication.
But this time it’s different. I’m not getting an “I told you so."
The difference is that I decided to be encouraging and let her know that it wasn’t about what you know; it’s about how lucky you can get. She’s actually been converted from a basketball hater to a girl who declined watching a chick flick with her sister to hole up in her bedroom and watch the late-night basketball games—all with the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning.
So I, through the power of women’s beginner’s luck, actually got what I wanted in the first place. My girlfriend has shown interest in an interest of mine. The only problem now is that she already seems to know more than I do.
Maybe that old-timer was right. Maybe I shouldn’t have tried to change her after all.
The icing on the cake is that I picked Syracuse to win the whole thing over Kansas—a tragic error in judgement—while she has Ohio State beating BYU (which she thought was called "Bring'em young," a recruiting ploy by the Mormons in her assertion).
I think I'll go get a Buckeye hat before they're gone.