Time Machine: A 1997 NCAA basketball tournament upset

The NCAA basketball season is over, and the end of the Villanova game was spectacular. But games are always better when you have a rooting interest.

So I thought back to the first time I went to an NCAA tournament game ,because it was a family affair;

My nephew was one of the players on the 15-seed Coppin State Eagles when they beat the 2-seed South Carolina Gamecocks in 1997. I remember being in the stands and rooting my head off.

But this is the first time I’ve actually seen the game. A videotape has been floating around the family for almost 20 years, but I just never got the chance to watch it. So today, I go to YouTube, and there it is.

You know, when you’re at the arena, you witness what’s going on, but it’s all hazy, because, when you’re really into it, you’re yelling and jumping up and down, and screaming at the refs and are basically caught up in the insanity of it all.

Like I remember that Coppin State was such a small school, it didn’t have its own band, so it borrowed the band from Morgan State, on the other side of Baltimore. I remember the cheerleaders didn’t have the elaborate routines that South Carolina had. And I remember being with family: my 6-year-old son, my brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.

But actually watching the televised game, and hearing the commentators say my nephew’s game, and looking at the crowd shots where I see me and my family going nuts in the crowd almost two decades ago makes me think of broadcasts and movies as little time machines where you can go back into the past and relive some of the greatest moments in your life.

Today, my son is all grown and as tall as the players you see on the court, but he was so tiny then. Some of my family members are no longer with us, but I can see them, right there in Pittsburgh so full of life. And strangely, I don’t believe it, but I look the same as I do now.

What’s that all about?

Jack Benny in ‘The Twilight Zone’

But now I realize. There are generations who don’t know who Rod Serling was. And there are generations who don’t know who Jack Benny was.

So outside of that context, is it funny? Or just a curiosity?

Imagine if you will: A perpetual 39-year-old comedian whose name fails to register with millions, more likely billions, of people under 39 appears with an award-winning science fiction writer whose name and fame have also dimmed with the passing of time.

Are they funny now?

Were they funny then?

And what’s up with that Rochester fellow with the sandpaper voice?

A quandary that can only be resolved in another dimension, in The Twilight Zone.