Hoops Cancellation Withdrawal Disorder

By Rusty Wright

In these tumultuous times, do you have difficulty focusing on work or household responsibilities?  Does life seem empty?  Do you often daydream about excitement?  Are you a basketball fan?  If so, you may be suffering from a recently designated serious malady, Hoops Cancellation Withdrawal Disorder.

CDC experts first began to detect this now widespread illness – officially dubbed HCWD-20 – on Thursday, March 12, 2020, when USA university basketball tournaments began to cancel in view of the tragic coronavirus pandemic.  That afternoon, the NCAA cancelled its national Division 1 basketball tournaments, “March Madness.”


Soon millions of befuddled, disappointed fans were struggling to get their March Madness fixes.  Symptoms from the early days of HCWD-20 included:

  • General malaise
  • Extended ESPN viewing to analyze commentators’, players’ and coaches’ reactions to cancellations
  • Frequent checking for news that cancellations would be reversed
  • Unwillingness to erase game times entries from one’s calendar
  • Frequently checking one’s watch to see how long until tip-off
  • Keeping a blank March Madness bracket ready to fill out

As time progressed, epidemiologists noticed in patients…

  • Difficulty finding other meaningful March/April activities
  • Binging on TV or Internet reruns of their team’s glory days
  • Humming or singing Bruce Springsteen’s Glory Days in excess
  • Immunity to “Get a life!” criticisms from unenlightened friends, family, etc.
  • Praying that their team’s best player returns for another season

NIH expert Dr. Anthony Fowchee says HCWD affects people of various ages, from teens and young adults to senior citizens.  “Seniors may be especially vulnerable,” explains Fowchee, “since they can anticipate fewer March Madness events over the remainder of their lifetimes than can younger patients.”


The national HCWD task force has been working day and night to dampen the HCWD impact.  At present, no vaccine is in sight, but industry leaders are cooperating to produce therapies for the millions of infected citizens.  CBS Television aired reruns of exciting March Madness games from decades past on days fans would have been viewing the 2020 tournament games. 

HCWD-like symptoms have also been observed among NBA fans, Major League Baseball fans, and internationally among football/soccer fans.  Health officials continue to monitor these developments closely.

HCWD testing

I should admit that, having attended a university where basketball is religion, I began noticing my own HCWD-20 symptoms around March 12.  As a true Blue Devil, I voluntarily submitted to testing, and was HCWD-positive.  Personalized treatments for me included watching replays of the Duke vs. Kentucky, March 28, 1992 East Regional final (completed by Christian Laettner’s overtime shot), plus other key victories en route to multiple national championships. 

I was at first disappointed that outlets ran Lehigh University’s upset of Duke in an early round of the 2012 tourney.  But I suspect that such upset games can benefit those in the HCWD-infected population that are also part of the extensive Duke-hating population.  In the spirit of collegiality, I wish them well. 

Basketball as religion?

But…basketball as religion?  Hmmm.  I recall the Good Book mentioning sports.  I know the Bible talks about baseball (Everything started “in the big inning;” Eve stole first; Adam stole second; the Prodigal Son made a home run).  And tennis (Joseph served in Pharaoh’s court).   And track and field/athletics (“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!”).

The Bible and hoops?  NBA star Steph Curry often includes Bible verses on his shoes.  A favorite of his: “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”  Maybe if I focused more on that, rather than on my disappointments, my HCWD-20 would be mitigated, lifting my spirits. 

Stay safe.  And don’t forget to laugh.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.  www.RustyWright.com

Copyright © 2020 Rusty Wright

This article first appeared on WashingtonExaminer.com.

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March Madness. Courtesy ClipartLook.com