Excited undergrads poured into the classroom and waited for the professor to show. No, they were not particularly excited about Geology that day. They talked only about how our beloved Kansas Jayhawks had defeated the Arizona Wildcats and earned a trip to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four in New Orleans. Basketball, not Geology, would be the topic of discussion until the moment the professor began his lecture.
Optimism for victory on the hardwood had overtaken the entire campus. It permeated the air along with the fragrance of the blooming flowers and trees on this gorgeous Spring day. Could we defeat Marquette in the Semi-Finals? Could we bring home the National Championship Trophy? Did anybody score tickets to the game? Unbeknownst to all except myself, the mood was about to turn sour.
That afternoon, April Fools Day, I had to be the bearer of bad, albeit fake, news. Still waiting for the professor, I stood up and asked my fellow scholars if they had checked the news at noon. No, they were too busy rushing to class. “Good”, I thought. “The perfect opportunity for a prank”. I addressed the crowd with a steady, but somber voice. “Several news outlets have reported that our beloved University of Kansas Men’s Basketball team has been disqualified from the 2003 Final Four”.
My fellow scholars were stunned. Mouths agape, they ceased their happy chatter as the devastating news sunk in. After an uncomfortable silence, a few students were able to speak. “What happened”? “Who will take our place”? “Will we have to forfeit the entire season”? I continued, “A party erupted on Bourbon Street last night. The entire team has been arrested for disorderly conduct. They will be returning to Kansas tomorrow. Arizona will represent the West Regional in the Final Four this year”.
The joy was all mine. I just stood there looking at my dumbfounded classmates. My fake frown masked the my sheer satisfaction of fooling a group of brilliant and promising scholars. The look of sadness in their eyes revealed their feelings of gloom and disappointment. A great basketball season had been ruined. Knowing that the professor would be entering shortly, I decided I had better let the others know the truth. “April Fool”, I shouted.
The relief was overwhelming. The successful run to the Final Four was not in vain. Only one question remained. Would my fellow students now show more animosity towards our opponent or towards me? Thankfully, they were a forgiving lot, and we were all able to enjoy the anticipation together.