So last night, while commiserating with fellow Aztecs about the basketball team’s first loss of the season, I received a text from my wife. It said …
Your son = a mess : (
My son, you see, is an eight-year-old Aztec fan. His first basketball game at Viejas (Cox) Arena was when he was four weeks old, against then No. 1 Arizona. Over the past year he’s really embraced it. He loves going to games with me, he sings the fight song (how many of you actually know the words?), he was even a ball boy at a game this year. And he hates the school from Provo.
But he hasn’t been doing this as long as most of us. He hasn’t been a fan of anything as long as most of us. This is his first foray into being truly passionate about something. And so when the Aztecs lost last night, he took it harder than I did. And when I rushed home to console him, it really helped me put it in perspective.
It’s just sports. Now, sports are an incredibly important part of the college experience. They are an important way to keep people connected to their university long after they graduate. Sports are a way to bring a community together and to bring attention to the university. When people feel proud of their alma mater, they tend to support it in a variety of ways. And that’s all good, important stuff.
But we tend to live and die with what some expert on TV says about our team. We take it personally. When I told my son that eventually every team loses, his response was “Yes, but we’re going to drop in the rankings.”
I finally convinced him that it’s a long season and, despite the loss last night, the Aztecs still can end up winning it all. And that we, as fans, should still be proud of the team and enjoy every second of this fantastic season. Because there is a game this weekend, and that school from Provo has to come to our arena in a month. And every day I get to wake up and come to an amazing campus and work with incredibly smart and enthusiastic people. And some day, if he works hard enough in school, he too can become a student here, and join The Show, and continue to cheer on the Aztecs.
And that’s the beauty of college sports.