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Trials of a Final Four fan


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  • Trials of a Final Four fan

    You know, it's pretty hard being a fan of a perennial top ten team. Every March you get all worked up as the conference regular season moves toward its conclusion and the big rivalries play out. Then comes the conference tournament when things really heat up and grudges are settled--or created--and rubber matches may occur. Games take place while you're at work... what a distraction, having to work when you should be watching hoops! Conference weekend can be exhausting, what with six-overtime games and tournament berths on the line. Then those dang brackets come out and you've got to study those. After that, you got to make your picks and pay your money. If your team is good but not a top one, do you choose against them? Are you superstitious? Of course not. Well maybe. No....wait.....yes....arrgghh!

    The first two rounds of the NCAA pretty much occupy four full days. Again, there come all those games at work, fuzzy pictures with rabbit ears having given way to live streaming. Good thing the grass doesn't need cutting or the leaves raking. It won't happen. You bite your nails...never been an upset of a #1 seed by a #16, but there's always a first time. What, your local feed doesn't give you your team's game? Darn!

    You get through the first weekend and wait for the next barrage of games. Things really get exciting in the round of 16 and then the regional finals. You feel your friends' jealousy and disdain as their teams are sent packing and yours sails right along. You get intimately familiar with all the Final Four history and statistics websites, answering the next trivia question your roomie poses...and the next, and the next. You start to tire of beer and chips and pizza and start craving a good Cobb salad. You fall behind in other aspects of your life, reading and work assignments, exercise and bill-paying.

    The wait for the Final Four is pretty long. Your long distance phone bill mounts as you touch base with college buddies. The regional finals weekend, you let some distractions in. Final Four Saturday, it’s all business. You stay focused. Nothing gets in the way. You have your priorities and you’ve got your mind right. Two games, hopefully great games. Your team gets there a lot. Sometimes they run the gauntlet and make it through, sometimes they don’t.

    When they get through, it’s great. Monday you can barely keep it together at work. Your coworkers think you're losing it, walking around singing your school fight song all day long. Walking out of the office in the late afternoon sun, you start to get an old familiar feeling. It takes you back to a Monday afternoon during your sophomore year in college when you felt the same anticipation along with 20,000 other people around you. You head over to a friend's house at 6 pm. TV's on. Game time's 7:20. You start to get another old familiar feeling. This one's harder to pin down, then you realize it's a bit of a tangent from your own sporting days, that "they'd run 10,000 miles to get here. Now they had to run one more" sort of feeling, of something huge about to happen to someone, just not you this time. You look at your friend's wife, who tolerates this sort of foolishness, and say, "I'll bet you'll be glad when this is over." Your rabid-fan friend says, "Hell, I'll be glad when this is over. I'm tired."

    You text message your roomie about the female sports reporter's cleavage as she interviews the coach pre-game. He's thinking the same thing 1500 miles away and texts you back. The game starts and the game is, well, the game. The focus of it all, yet by now, almost an abstraction. You feel like you've been in a sort of mild, slow-motion final exam period for several weeks. When your team loses, you convince yourself it wasn't really all that important to start with. When they win, you're elated, but on some level, you still realize it really wasn't really all that important to start with.

    But it's been a fun four weeks. You're tired. You're really tired and are surprised at that. You realize there are buds on the trees and your son needs another haircut. You hear that four of the twenty guys at the big high school all-star classic have committed to your school for the next fall. Predictions and prognostications are already being made. Gotta start thinking about next season. You park by your rabid-fan friend's car in the parking lot on Tuesday, the one with the vanity plates hinting at the school and the prior championship years. When you come back to your truck at the end of the day, there's a note on it that reads, "Still getting used to the idea there's no one left to beat. Glad we could see it together."

    It's been a lot of work. It's hard being a fan of a Final Four team.

  • #2
    Trying being a Stanley Cup contender fan; I've already gotten a head start and haven't shaved in a week.


    • #3
      Originally posted by gh
      Trying being a Stanley Cup contender fan; I've already gotten a head start and haven't shaved in a week.
      My Penguins are in 8-) .
      "A beautiful theory killed by an ugly fact."
      by Thomas Henry Huxley


      • #4
        drjay, you are breaking my heart ( yeah, sure. ) I just wish it was 1991, 1992, or 2001 again. Particularly, I wish it was 1991. I was there for both games, in my current hometown, and my son joined me for the final. A special moment.

        Anyhow, congrats to your Tar Heels. They are the best team in the country and they proved it. Enjoy.