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Dave Barrett’s songwriting moment still shines as March Madness finale

A college hoops legend
A college hoops legend

A college hoops legend

The name Dave Barrett is understandably unfamiliar to most college basketball fans. His name is not synonymous with March Madness. The moments that define the NCAA Tournament for the ages – Edney’s dash, Laettner’s turnaround, Drew’s leaning jumper – are all far more familiar. Yet, it is Barrett who can be credited with providing the literal soundtrack to the Tourney’s all-time greatest hits — with his own iconic smash. His creation was a simple song called “One Shining Moment.”

Yahoo! chronicles the birth of a now-iconic musical number that was spawned in an East Lansing bar and has since become one of the most mystical and magical tunes of modern sports. I’ll admit it. One Shining Moment has long been the ultimate highlight for my annual March sports viewing. I’m 35. Saying I’ve watched three decades worth of OSM post-tourney montages would not be a stretch. Perhaps I didn’t fully absorb OSM as a kindergartner, but my appreciation has no doubt grown over time.

Now, as the quality of actual play on the court continues to visibly deteriorate, the brainchild of Barrett, which has been elevated by CBS with a predictable, yet somehow-irresistible creative formula, is even more appealing.

So it will be this Monday evening for me, as it has for seemingly forever.

I’ll watch the NCAA title game. I’ll hope for an edge-of-your-seat contest that will make it impossible to turn off. Chances are, it won’t be. Regardless, I’ll stick around for the final whistle and beyond. Not for the interviews from the triumphant head coach or the naming of the tournament MVP, but, rather for that one three-minute video montage. I’ll fight my sure-to-be bleary eyes to see the choreographed script play itself out.

The tipped ball. The shot of the band with trumpets pointed towards the sky. The hustling player running and sliding across the hardwood. The faces of the long shots, faces buried in their towels to hide the tears. The high kicks of the cheerleaders, and the moments of realization captured in that coach’s scoreboard glance that signifies that a dream is about to come to an end. A player’s pounding of a fist on his own chest. Each shot almost too literally timed to coincide in lockstep with Barrett’s back-of-the-napkin lyrics.

We can all envision every clip and cut that CBS will put in front of us. In fact, it can be prognosticated with great accuracy. No one would debate that fact. Who cares? You’re damn right it’s cheesy. It’s certainly predictable. Utterly formulaic. That’s part of what makes it so fantastic and impervious to the sands of time. It’s  dependable. It’s natural. And, in a day and age where so much about college sports feels rotten, the emotion and expressions captured from teens and 20-somethings from a few weeks in March make One Shining Moment all that more powerful and precious.

We’ve got Dave Barrett to thank for that. Let’s hope this March Madness tradition never fades away.

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