It was impossible to note any such nonsense last year, when war in Iraq turned marathon viewing of the first two rounds of the tournament—the guiltiest pleasure in all of sports—into all guilt and no pleasure. Last Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the war's start, and CBS briefly interrupted basketball to update us on efforts to capture al-Qaeda's No. 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. But for the most part, we were free, for the first time in two years, to blissfully indulge in full televisual immersion in the tournament, with its Zakee Wadood and its Boubacar Coly.
By Saturday I was, like the TV itself, in a permanent horizontal hold. A curious delivery man, peeking into the living room, might have reasonably assumed that I lay in state, like Lenin in his tomb.
It was scarcely possible to become more slothful. Nevertheless, I did. I found myself watching St. Louis Rams quarterback Marc Bulger watching his sisters, Kate and Meg, play for West Virginia on ESPN against Ohio State, whose Michelle Munoz was watched by her father, ex- Cincinnati Bengal Anthony Munoz, while I watched him watch her.
It had come to this: I was now living vicariously through athletes living vicariously through other athletes. Both Chris Duhon of Duke and Charlie Villanueva of Connecticut were injured this month after running into television cameras. By Sunday I feared I had become the third victim of televised college basketball. I was an unstartable force, immovable in my couch divot.
And yet, my brackets looked immaculate. I'd ridden my quarter nearly to the quarterfinals: Nevada and Alabama were safely in the Sweet Sixteen, and I was eager to see them through. I've already spent more time on the couch than Woody Allen. And the remote remains obstinately out of reach. One more week couldn't hurt, could it?