"March Madness" was much more than the road to the Final Four for the Deseret News sports department. Each year March is almost the road to the hospital for the writers.
March is the equivalent of a mental marathon. It's a month-long grind with no letup.All sports seem to converge in March. Football? Yes, spring practice anyway. We get the opening of the college baseball and track seasons to augment the already hefty March sports fare - Jazz, Golden Eagles, wrap-up of college basketball, gymnastics, college golf and tennis, college skiing championships, national indoor archery meet, prep basketball championships, etc.
Plus there were blockbuster developments at the University of Utah and Brigham Young University. The U. let it be known an important announcement would be made on March 13. A breakthrough in nuclear fusion experiments perhaps? Not yet. The announcement concerned the status of basketball coach Lynn Archibald. He was fired.
Later that week, BYU sent word it was calling a press conference Friday morning. Something important was going to happen. It was the stepping down of Ladell Andersen as head basketball coach.
What followed were a couple of nerve-wracking days for BYU sports beat writer Brad Rock and BYU assistant coach Roger Reid, both of whom followed the events succeeding Andersen's resignation with extreme interest until Reid was named head coach the following Monday.
Utah sports beat writer Mike Sorensen wasn't as fortunate as Rock. The Utah situation didn't stabilize in a couple of days - nor was it expected to. Sorensen diligently (perhaps too diligently for the U. athletic department's likes) followed the proceedings through March, and prepared to do likewise for April.
Perhaps the most beleaguered sports department member in March was prep writer Scott "The Zombie" Taylor. There was no rest for him. He ended February covering the 3A and 4A state tournaments and spent the first two weeks in March covering the 2A (culminating with that memorable 84-83 overtime win by Emery High School on a near half-court shot) and 1A state tournaments while gathering data and pictures for the all-state teams at the same time. His basketball work is still not over. He's finishing up the all-state girls' teams this week. And he'll barely have time to regroup before he's inundated by the spring prep sports.
And how 'bout that Jazz, and for that matter the Golden Eagles? What a great month they had, which meant a big month for Jazz beat writer Kurt Kragthorpe and Eagle beat writer Linda Hamilton, who had to miss some Eagle games because key gymnastic meets were going on at the same time at the Huntsman Center at the U.
BYU football beat writer Doug Robinson wasn't looking at a difficult month when it started, but then he was called on to help city desk reporter JoAnne Jacobsen-Wells in the investigation of the suicides of two 17-year-old high school athletes.
And outdoors writer Ray Grass finds his beat warms up as the weather does in March.
So, were there a lot of complaints from the staff about being overworked? No, they're pros. And while March is an exhausting month, because of the developments and the staff's professionalism, it's also an exciting one.
Like a marathon, you don't want a sustained avalanche of events to happen too often, but once in awhile - say every March - it gets the blood flowing.