I need advice from normal people. Like you guys.
Several weeks after the thrilling conclusion of March Madness, I’m still wondering if being an avid sports fan is a silly time-waster. Should I feel guilty investing good money and emotional capital in watching college kids in oversized shorts attempt to put a ball through a hoop? Can I idolize a coach I barely know?
My name is Don, and I’m a true Wisconsin Badgers basketball fan. I’ve been one since Bo Ryan, their astute coach, was still an assistant. I was way back when the Badgers were still playing in an old rickety building affectionately called “the old red gym” because it was old and red. Wins were rare to come by back then, and after each defeat, I’d hustle back to my car and turn on the radio to hear Bo’s postgame talk. He was always upbeat, always expecting his boys to get better. I believed him.
Many years later, with Bo as head coach, the team did get better. This year appeared to be one of destiny. The Badgers had a great regular season, and worked their way through the NCAA Tournament, eventually reaching the Western Regionals to face off against powerhouses North Carolina and Arizona. I knew it might vex me, but I decided to cheer on my team in person.
Sometimes sports fans can be a little obnoxious when they root for their team. I qualified as one of those rambunctious souls. With my help, the Badgers were victorious and earned a spot in the 2015 Final Four in Indianapolis. I needed to go. Against all logic, I did.
In Indianapolis, the Badgers made it to the National Championship game by beating a previously undefeated Kentucky team. Huge throngs of red-clad Wisconsin faithful poured into the city to watch the Badgers take on perennial power Duke for the national title. I was among that throng of thousands, wearing my red, singing Wisconsin songs and talking to complete strangers about how “we” were going to win.
But “we” didn’t. The Badgers fell short and the dream was over. Flying home, I was exhausted and way behind in my chores. Losing your final game of the season must suck as a player. As a fan, I felt sad. Sad for the coach, the players and for me. Sure, it was only a momentary sadness, in the grand scheme of things. And I know it makes no sense, but I felt like rushing back to my old car to get some encouraging words from Bo Ryan on my radio.
Weeks later, the question remains: Is being such an avid fan a silly thing? By the way, the Final Four is in Houston next year.