INDIANAPOLIS -- We are a species inhabiting a strange planet. Every one of us is predisposed and pre-wired to seek patterns, which help us find similarity and sense. Patterns remove us from the fear of disorder and meaninglessness, and give us comfort. We can choose to model the world in simplistic terms, or we can opt to see the world as a complex cause-and-effect machine. We even have the freedom to admit that we have gaps in our understanding.
American college basketball is nothing like life, and anybody who claims that it's some sort of metaphor for existence probably doesn't get out that much. But no other sport in the world presents a contextual challenge that parallels that of our gigantic global device. With 347 moving pieces, Our Game is a contained model of chaos -- one which will fall into place neatly in 20 short weeks. A world of 6.9 billion people will take a lot more time to figure itself out.
On this, the true opening day of the beautiful
2009-10 season, there are 125 games scheduled. There will be another 66 tomorrow. Each of these contests means something -- we don't know quite what
exactly, though. To some of us, that not knowing
is why we are intrigued, why we care, and why we make the effort to go and watch. We want to see how it all fits into the pattern.
This afternoon, I will be setting out from Mid-Majority Headquarters in Indianapolis, and driving Muncie, Indiana for a game tonight between homestanding Ball State and visiting Valparaiso
. From this current vantage point in time, this would appear to be like a match between two programs that will struggle in their respective leagues, the Mid-American Conference and the Horizon League. Perhaps what happens tonight will serve to underline all those auguries. Or there's a chance that the predicted pattern is the wrong one, because there always is that chance.
This is the beginning of our sixth journey together, a single voyage inside a larger one. These 62 miles from Indianapolis to Muncie will be the first of a planned 14,278 miles, which will take us from coast to coast, from the America East to the Great West, and back again (several times, even with an Olympic break). If all goes according to schedule, Bally and I will attend 109 games... the same number as last year
And more so than ever before, each and every mile of this journey belongs to The Mid-Majority's loyal readership. Every mile is supported
by you, and we take that very seriously. I want to thank everybody who put us in a position to be standing here at milepost zero: everybody who bought the book
over the summer, each person who bought an overpriced stuffed basketball
, the Basketball State subscribers
, all the Bally Club members
from all over Hoops Nation, and especially those who kept giving above and beyond their purchases. This is all for you.