2/4/14: The life of a college basketball-aholic, 3,000 miles away from the NCAA


When I made the decision to study in Paris during the spring, I knew my choice was the right one. I knew simultaneously that it would have some implications for one of my favorite (and for me, probably essential) extracurricular activities.

Live American sports.

I was gone for the recently concluded NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl. Same goes for the bulk of the college basketball regular season and my second-to-last year of free student tickets through UNC’s lottery (not that I’ve ever won the thing in 17 tries; I’m prepared to bet that no other Carolina student who cares about the sport has had worse than my luck). And I’ll be gone for the entire NCAA tournament — where I have a storied career of bracket victories (yeah, last year I had one team remaining once the Elite Eight came around, but who’s counting?).

Conscious decision made long before coming to Paris: if I’m going to keep one American custom around while I immerse myself in French culture, college basketball wins. On second thought, it’s a virtual dead heat with peanut butter, but they both get to stay.

Thanks to lovely free online streaming sites that offer me games with a reasonably high success rate, my nightly sports craving is usually satisfied. But it often comes at the expense of a more fulfilling sleep schedule.

As the sports savvy will know, basketball games on my radar (mostly ACC) during the week typically begin between 7-9 p.m. U.S. Eastern time, which translates to the wee morning hours with the six-hour time difference in Paris. I swear I’ve seen dawn starting to break and heard birds chattering at the end of a game — notably the Duke vs. Syracuse overtime spectacular last Saturday, arguably the best college ball played so far this season — that I just “had” to watch.

Super Bowl XLVIII was also one of those days (nights? mornings?). With the game itself starting at 12:30 a.m., a group of us set up camp at an Irish pub nearby, armed with cider ales and fried mozzarella sticks for the four-hour event. I was inwardly prepared for a 5 a.m. return to my apartment on a Sunday. Yeah, that’s a school night.

Not being able to watch the famous $4-million TV commercials on a European sports network was a definite downer. Still a good night overall, with Henry and I doing our best to play the in-house American football experts for the international crowd.

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But seriously: Thank you, Seahawks, for making it 29-0 right after halftime and allowing me to get home at 3:45 instead!

I write this as I contemplate whether or not to stay up for the UNC-Maryland game that begins at 8 p.m. tonight. It’s poised to be a close game and a major indicator of whether the Heels have turned things around after a meteoric nosedive from the top 25 and an 0-3 start to conference play. It’s also a 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. commitment on my end.

True, without American sports and my FOMO-esque need to watch games live, I could on some occasions be getting nine hours of sleep a night. But as long as I’m not missing out on life and daily choses à faire in Paris, I can generally deal with a little less shut-eye and an extra shot or three of caffeine in the morning.

*Yawns* That 4 a.m. bedtime this eve, however, might not be in the cards.


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