I started and finished writing this column on Friday, squeezing it in between morning meetings and lunch. For those thinking of launching a news startup on the fashion trends of Triangle media types, I wore a blue button-down dress shirt, a blue-and-magenta Ted Baker tie, blue-gray cuffed corduroy dress pants, and blue socks that featured avocados and chili peppers.
The N&O’s Susan Spring wore a green top and clover-splattered pants. Because Susan is fun. And Friday — as most of the fun portion of the world knows — was St. Patrick’s Day.
I used to be a fun kid back in the Mesozoic Era, when wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day was essential to: A) Standing out by NOT standing out at school; and B) Not getting pinched.
It matters little that every kid in my class still got pinched — because that’s what kids did back then without causing a viral school board meeting. Wearing green clothes meant you were part of a Seth Godinesque tribe.
Oh, y’all know that clothing colors matter in the Triangle. Here, shades of blue can turn close-knit families, friends and colleagues into All-ACC trash talkers.
All week, since the NCAA college basketball tournament bracket came out, I chose tie colors that could only be connected conspiratorially with out-of-Triangle teams — Villanova on Monday, followed by Tulane, Florida and Northwestern.
The blue in my Ted Baker tie was not Carolina Blue nor Duke Blue. Because of my role at The News & Observer, my blue tie on Friday needed to be Switzerland red.
There’s a reason for all this babbling about colors. They define us. They engage us. They connect us.
The 2022 Final Four matchup between North Carolina Blue and Duke Blue will be discussed and fussed about for decades in the Triangle. For color nerds, this was RGB 123-175-212 vs. RGB 0-48-135. It doesn’t get any more splashy, even if you’re an old-school CMYK enthusiast.
Beyond the Coach K watch, there was a matter of history.
Wrote N&O sports columnist Luke DeCock, who declared a year ago that UNC-Duke in the Final Four was the state’s greatest sporting event ever: “To play this game in Mike Krzyzewski’s final season, in Hubert Davis’ first season, and play it on the grandest of stages for the very first time, absolutely nothing can compare.”
I’ll remember the 2022 Final Four for all the reasons editors need to take vacations:
▪ Tar Heel fans complaining about decades of slights.
▪ Duke fans complaining about UNC fans.
▪ N.C. State fans complaining about spring football coverage.
There was much more happening beyond my wardrobe selections throughout the madness of March 2022. Worrying about an exhausted sports and photo staff. Working with editors to figure out how to cover fan reactions at Duke and Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street (aka spontaneous pavement campfire capital of the world). And The N&O team updating newsobserver.com platforms constantly, and publishing special sections, a commemorative poster and our first NFT.
When the 2023 tournament started on Thursday, we had journalists in Orlando and Denver. This time, the Triangle’s attention was on Duke and North Carolina State.
Some of UNC’s loyal fans — their team not in the tourney and sorting through the what’s-next questions — may not have bothered filling out an office bracket.
No one loves feeling that kind of blue.
That’s why I’ll approach the madness of this March with respect for N&O readers of all team colors.
Besides, isn’t gray a fun, splashy color?
Bill Church is executive editor of The News & Observer.
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