Nothing brings people together quite like sports. And in San Diego, nothing brings the community together quite like a champion. Following SDSU’s semi final victory over New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament this weekend, I was hugged in the street in Las Vegas by a complete stranger. She was just elated to be an Aztec fan. And after both the SDSU men’s and women’s teams won their respective championship games – an historic sports accomplishment for SDSU and San Diego both – you could tell who was an Aztec fan just by the smiles on their faces.
Let’s face it, San Diego has lacked for sports championships. So these victories go beyond the SDSU community. They are an opportunity to not only bring out school spirit, but civic pride. Mayor Sanders is on board. He even sent out a congratulatory Tweet Saturday night.
I received a great education at San Diego State. I made phenomenal friendships and contacts that have served me well, both professionally and personally. But after I graduated from SDSU (and before I was employed here in October 2008), the way I stayed connected to my university was through its athletics programs. I’ve watched the teams even in the down years. And I’m certain there are many more people like me. But don’t be surprised this week, as both basketball teams prepare for the NCAA Tournament, if you see more and more people sporting their red and black. Championships tend to bring fans out of the woodwork. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing. Because when people talk about SDSU sports, it’s another opportunity to talk about all the other great things going on at our university.
There are people who don’t believe society should put so much emphasis on sports. I wish those people could have been with us in Las Vegas this weekend. Swept up in the euphoria, my wife, a graduate of Boston University, was on the floor celebrating with all the Aztec fans. She was even singing our fight song (for the record, she doesn’t even know BU’s fight song). How’s that for civic pride?
Sports is not a cure all. It won’t fix the state’s budget and it won’t end furloughs. But it is an amazing way to remove ourselves from the daily grind and bring a sense of pride to a community and positive emphasis on our university. One of my favorite Tweets from this weekend said this: “I’ve never been sooooooooo proud to wear my SDSU sweatshirt than today!!!!!!!!!!”
Kind of says it all. So go ahead, put on your red and black. Find your old sweatshirt with the SDSU letters on it. Let the world know you’re proud to be an Aztec!
Aztec for Life!