March Madness

zoeI love basketball. When I was young, we lived in an older Victorian duplex in Milwaukee. There were no playgrounds or parks with basketball hoops anywhere nearby, so my sister and I literally nailed that week’s milk crate onto the back of the house and took turns sitting on a ladder retrieving the shots that others made with our red rubber four-square ball.

The surface wasn’t paved, so we couldn’t dribble the ball very easily. We didn’t have the money to pave it, so our dad would drive us to the site of a recently demolished brick building and, with the owner’s permission, load up our wood-paneled station wagon full of different colored bricks until the back end was almost dragging. With those bricks, our dad made us a small b-ball court in our yard, including free throw line, and installed a real hoop. Of course, our mother was not too appreciative having a basketball banging off the back of the living room wall most summer days, but we were active, outdoors and safe, so she put up with it.

I played for many years through school and on local leagues, until I had torn my anterior cruciate ligaments on both knees. I figured that was a sign to give it up. But I still follow the sport closely, and hold season tickets for the Stanford women’s team. This is one of my favorite times of the year – March Madness.

This is when college teams find out whether they are selected for “the dance,” and make a run for the Final Four and possibly a national championship. I love the intensity of the players and coaches, the school spirit demonstrated by the fans, and the pre-game coverage guessing what strategies each team will use against the next opponent. Everything they worked for all season long is wrapped up in one final competition. It also serves as an opportunity for work colleagues to participate in office betting pools to see whose bracket holds up the farthest. Folks who don’t even watch the regular season will join in the fun to show solidarity with their home team or alma mater.

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I hope to catch a game or two at Hi-Tops on Market Street, and maybe I’ll see you there? For the record, I predict the UConn women will be national champions (not a reach, considering they are undefeated), and Arizona will win the men’s (PAC-12 bias). Most of all, I hope for good officiating, fair play and no injuries.

Speaking of fair play, I do have to rant about a recent development in the upcoming primary elections. There is a San Francisco ballot initiative, Prop B, which will be on the June ballot. It would, in effect, require all development along our city’s extensive waterfront to go to the voters for any and all requests to exceed the current height limitations. There are arguments both for and against this measure, and I won’t go into them here.

But you should be aware that when you get your voter’s guide and try to educate yourself about the measure, you’ll be surprised when you look at the published argument against it. What you will read actually is an argument for it. What?! You see, the proponents of the measure (specifically, Jon Gollinger), through a clever manipulation of a voter guide loophole, managed to get the rights to author the against argument. They will use both spaces to convince you to vote for it. Legal? Probably, but it’s certainly not ethical in my mind. The basis for their entire proposition is to “let the voters decide” about waterfront developments. Yet, they don’t trust the voters enough to allow them to get both sides of the argument. It’s politics at its worst, and I for one find it reprehensible.

In the end, the most important thing is that you vote. Please mark Tuesday, June 3, down on your calendar. Make your voice heard. There are many statewide offices up for election this year, and for the more contested race primaries—like Secretary of State and Controller—you will want to help decide who our leaders will be for the next four years.

Until then, stay involved!

Zoe Dunning is a retired Navy Commander and was a lead activist in the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She currently serves as the 1st Vice Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party and is Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club.