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March Madness...In Sports & Politics

March Madness is upon us, and we'll be devoting a lot of space to it in the coming weeks. 

Yesterday's Iowa-Nebraska game for the Big Ten women's basketball championship was an instant classic. Caitlin Clark again demonstrated why she is the best player in the country--male or female--with 30 second half points and two key steals in the closing minutes to force the game into overtime and clinch the win for the Hawkeyes.

The Stanford women were upset by USC in the final Pac-12 championship game. I've believed all year that their No. 2 national ranking was too high. Stanford has two great inside players in Cameron Brink and Kiki Iriafen, but lacks a consistent outside scoring threat. Hannah Jump, their 3-point specialist, has had an off year and often disappears for long stretches. Stanford will do well to get into the Sweet 16 this season.

I'm not a USC fan, as regular readers of this blog well know, but I like the Trojans chances in the NCAA tourney. Yersterday Stanford's Elena Bosgana shut down USC superstar Juju Watkins, who had scored 51 against the Cardinal earlier this year, but her teammates stepped up and outrebounded the Cardinal 48-28 and drilled nine 3-pointers.

They have the balance and the athleticism to compete with the likes of South Carolina, LSU and Iowa.

Unfortunately, a different kind of March Madness has also arrived. (spoiler alert: we're getting into politics today).  After several primaries on Super Tuesday, March 5, the Republican Party appears poised to nominate Donald Trump for the Presidency for the third time.

Yes, that Donald Trump. The man who attempted a coup after he lost the 2020 election, has been found guilty of sexual assault and business fraud, lies every time he opens his mouth, is certifiably racist, fawns over murderous dictators, and is facing 91 felony charges. 

I don't watch much late night TV, but Seth Meyers had a brilliant takedown of Trump last week. I'll quote it here:

Trump is the "presumptive GOP nominee for president, again, for a third time, despite the fact that he is a twice-impeached, four-time criminal indictee, and racist who's been found liable for fraud and sexual abuse. Banned from doing business in the state of New York for three years. Owes over half a billion dollars in fines. Took millions from foreign governments while he was president. Tried to extort a foreign country to interfere in the 2020 election and encouraged another to help him win in 2016.

"Actively undermined a nation's response to a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic and let a deadly disease spiral out of control. Is about to go on trial for breaking campaign finance laws by paying hush money to cover up an affair during the 2016 campaign. Orchestrated a months-long coup attempt that culminated in a violent insurrection to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power. Stole classified documents and obstructed attempts to get them back. Has never once won the popular vote.

"Spews deranged conspiracy theories about everything from climate change to immigration, vaccines to windmills....cheats at golf, can't spell his wife's name. And on top of everything else, is the single weirdest, most off-putting human being on the face of the f***ing planet."

Agreed on all points.

His opponent will be President Joe Biden, who as noted in a recent profile in the New Yorker, "by the usual measures, should be cruising to re-election. Violent crime has dropped to nearly a 50-year low, unemployment is below 4%, and in January the Dow and S&P 500 hit record highs. More Americans than ever have health insurance,..Biden got the nation out of the pandemic, rescued the economy, revived NATO and passed significant legislation on climate change, gun control, drug prices, chip manufacturing and infrastructure."

But these are unusual times, and polls indicate that half the country supports Trump. In my mind, Biden has done a good job, failing only in a messy withdrawal from Afghanistan, having too many birthdays, and controlling his wayward son.

Compared to Trump's rap sheet, he's an altar boy. 

Biden gave a masterful State of the Union address last Thursday night. He was feisty, combative, and directly challenged his opponents.

GOP Speaker Mike Johnson was clearly uncomfortable sitting behind Biden. He squirmed in his seat and often looked like a man fighting acid reflux. 

As Biden pointed out that the Republicans had knee-capped an immigration bill that gave them 90% of what they wanted, Johnson shook his head, but the camera showed GOP Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, who had worked with Democrats to draft the bill, mouthing the words, "that's true."

Remarkably, not a single Republican stood when Biden talked about stopping the flow of fentanyl, cutting drug prices, supporting early childhood education, trying to cure cancer or addressing the threat of Vladimir Putin.

All in all, it was not a good night for the GOP. Classless Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene showed up wearing a red MAGA hat. Disgraced former Congressman George Santos, who was recently expelled from the House, showed up to announce he was again running for Congress. 

Alabama Senator Katie Britt gave an embarrassing "response" to the President on a set that looked like a cooking show with over-the-top histrionics that led one critic to say she seemed to be "auditioning for Grey's Anatomy."

Britt somehow blamed President Biden for the drug cartel's sexual attack on a woman that happened 20 years ago in Mexico, back when George W. Bush was president.

The 81-year old Biden, on the other hand, was on point throughout. My favorite line was: "You can't love your country only when you win."

Words to live by.


Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//

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