The long winter of our discontent finally is melting away. Hopefully not over the banks of the Kennebec River or into home basements. It has been a horrific season of record-breaking snow and cold.

Let’s put it all behind us and look ahead to better weather, golf and outdoor recreation. Nothing beats the constant variety of sports, “the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, the human drama of athletic competition.”

For many of us, the immediate future gets much brighter. March Madness, the NCAA basketball tournament’s frantic push to the Final Four and a national championship is in full swing and nearing conclusion. Perhaps best of all, the Red Sox are nearing completion of spring training in Florida and soon will return to the friendly confines of Fenway Park and the Green Monster.

For us sports fans, nothing beats the exhilaration of witnessing and participating (some of us, anyway) in athletic competition.

Since I am submitting this column before the weekend begins, some of the basketball teams that I mention here may have already succumbed by today to “the agony of defeat.” But I will be surprised if any team knocks off the Kentucky Wildcats for 2015 national glory.

The Wildcats may be destined to become the only undefeated team since Indiana in the mid-1970s. Gaby and I are longtime Duke fans, but we’re worried about the Blue Devils making it to the Final Four.


Others in my Final Four bracket selections were Wisconsin and Michigan State. The competition is intense and the outcomes unpredictable.

Basketball is my favorite sport, and the privilege afforded me in broadcasting the Cony Rams 1978 New England basketball championship remains as one of Gaby and my greatest thrills. In my mind, I can still hear her screaming at the end of the play-by-play after Cony won.

“The Magic Show,” the name we gave that team and season, came flowing back in memory as I read about the passing of Augusta athletics icon and former Cony teacher Dennis Towle on Feb. 26. Dennis was father of Gary, whose incredible shotmaking led The Magic Show to an unbelievable upset over the team from Providence, R.I.

Former Maine basketball tournament director Bob Whytock, a former Cony principal and wonderful guy, joined Towle in heaven on March 15. John Winkin, 50-year Maine college baseball coach, died last year.

There must be some great games being played somewhere.

During my sports broadcasting career in Maine and the Midwest, I had the great pleasure of experiencing the “thrill of victory.” That experience spanned broadcasts from the back of the bleachers at Quimby field in Gardiner to the 100,000-seat Ohio Stadium, as well as at St. John’s basketball arena and at the Indianapolis 500, where we witnessed “the drama of human competition.”


Basketball may be ending, but the end of winter also heralds the return of baseball. All of us Red Sox fans have something to look forward to again. Spring training in Florida is almost done.

Our beloved Sox head for home soon. The season opener is April 6 in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia, against the Phillies. The home opener will be April 13 at Fenway.

I always enjoyed spring training in Florida, with my wife, when I was executive vice president/marketing director for State Cable TV. Since we carried NESN and the Red Sox on our cable systems throughout Northern New England, one of the perks my position earned was an annual visit to spring training.

Our seats were behind the dugout at Land O’ Lakes Park in Winter Haven.

Gaby still has some of the baseballs that I caught in the stands. She would pester some of the players for autographs, and she got them. The ball she treasured most, however, was not signed by a Red Sox player. It was signed by Joe Carter, who had hit the World Series-winning home run for the Toronto Blue Jays.

My first Red Sox game was provided by a loving uncle who lived in the Boston area. I was a young boy when he led me up a tunnel in right field into the bright sunlight of Fenway Park. And there he was — right in front of my eyes — my hero, the great Ted Williams. Memories like that you never forget. (You see, I did have a life outside of politics.)

Sports are a potent tonic for detoxification of the winter blues, and an aid in ending the “cabin fever” produced by a seemingly endless winter.

Sports are all a mirror of our lives, and we are lucky to have them. Let the spring and summer games begin.

Don Roberts, a former city councilor and former vice chairman of the Charter Commission in Augusta, is a trustee of the Greater Augusta Utility District.

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