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Sports: Living proof that God hates all of us

The UA basketball team makes me suicidal. (Photo by Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star)

It will be a surprise if I love my children as much as I love the Arizona basketball team.

That sounds horrible, doesn’t it? But that’s been the primary thought in my head since the U of A, my beloved alma mater, ended its turd of a season Saturday with a turd of a loss to a turd of a team, thereby missing the NCAA tournament, thereby sending me into a depressed funk that likely will last until Thanksgiving. Of 2016.

Why do people care so much about sports? There is nothing more ridiculous than emotionally investing yourself so deeply in a team (or teams) that, even in an outstanding season, will break your heart. It’s like having a 50-year marriage to the most amazing person alive and then, on your deathbed, she confesses, “By the way, none of our kids are related to you.”

That brings me back to my opening statement. Of course I’ll love my future children even more than the UA basketball team, but it seems like a serious stretch at the moment. My relationship to Arizona basketball is as personal as anything I’ve ever experienced.

That’s perhaps the most humiliating admission I’ve ever made, but it’s 100 percent true. I love Arizona basketball more than I love most of my family members, so if my kid can’t hit an open jumper with the Pac-12 championship on the line, then what possible joy can he or she bring me?

Even the best teams regularly fail and make their fans cry. The weird chicken outfits only increase the pain.

It’s stupid. Rooting religiously for a sports team is stupid, all-caps STUPID, and it’s even worse because the stupidity leads to depression.

I’ve been dealt some serious blows in my life, the worst imaginable, yet my generally cheery disposition never let me linger too long on the heartache. Truthfully, the only pain I ever dwell on is the sting of an Arizona basketball season that ends without a national championship.

Guess what? In my 30 years on Earth, 29 have ended in misery. And the UA is an elite program.

The first year I was old enough to really appreciate sports was 1988, the Wildcats’ best season ever, the year they were destined for the throne. The thought of them falling short never entered my mind. So on the night they lost in the Final Four, I walked from the TV room into the kitchen and quietly sobbed into a bowl of popcorn.

Six months later I had open-heart surgery. Final Four loss + broken heart = surgery. Simple math.

I cried almost every season thereafter, well into adulthood. In 2001, I was just shy of my 20th birthday when an incredibly good and likable Wildcats team lost the national championship game to Duke. There were probably 15 people in my apartment for the game, and I cried in front of all of them. That night I got drunk on a Gatorade/vodka mix and peed on my young neighbor’s tricycle. (I’m not proud of what of did, but I’m not hiding from my past either.)

And I’m still pretty convinced that I had a mild heart attack during the UA’s NCAA tournament run last year, when they were one shot — one INCH of one shot — away from the holy land, the Final Four. The image of Jamelle Horne missing that shot literally keeps me awake at night, 12 months later. It will forever.

Don’t worry, Jamelle. You aren’t the only one who’s haunted. (Photo by Kelly Presnell / Arizona Daily Star)

Is this not the most pathetic story you’ve ever read? What kind of idiots are we to be so obsessed with this nonsense?

Take the New York Yankees, a team I love on nearly the same level as UA hoops. The Yankees are the best professional sports franchise in the history of the world. (That’s not hyperbole, either; that’s the truth, Ruth.) Anyway, every year they are very good, and many years they are the best team in baseball.

But every time they lose a game, it ruins my day. I become a little angry at the fact that I’m still alive. Now consider the fact that the Yankees lose 60 to 65 times in an excellent season. That’s two full months of bad days each year, all because the Yankees lost a baseball game. (This doesn’t include the playoffs, when a loss is worse than having to spoon naked with Jabba the Hutt.)

My wife will give birth to a child in six months, and I’m supposed to help mold this kid into a fully functioning citizen of the world, a person who has a handle on his or her emotions in order to successfully navigate life. Based on what you just read, do I sound qualified to dish out advice on rational behavior?

Normally, I’d say yes. But now, in the wake of the UA’s most recent season-ending failure, I feel like breaking your fingers and throwing your cat in a dumpster.

Bear Down.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m not giving up on the season just quite yet — if Arizona can make something of a run in the NIT, then the Wildcats would have a date set for Madison Square Garden, giving me a chance to see them play live at least once this season.

    And, if Arizona cannot make it that far in the NIT…. well, then that’s a whole new set of problems likely to be discussed with a therapist! – Jerzy

    March 13, 2012
    • I’ll still root for them in the NIT and hope they win it all. But let’s just say my expectations are beyond low. Which means I’ll be even angrier at the world very soon.

      March 13, 2012
  2. Tyler, you have given words to my exact emotional state for 32 of the 33 years I’ve been on this earth. I cried tears of sadness reading this post, tears of understanding, tears that are only cried when the best thing I can really do is tap my chest with a closed fist and say “preach it, brotha.” I have 4 kids. They all have Arizona gear and I force them to wear it, without washing, on game days during the tournament. This means I’ve had infants in onesies laden with spit-up for days on end. I’m not proud of that, but love makes you do crAZy things. And on loving your kids more than AZ basketball I have this to share: Last night my son asked me to play NCAA 09 with him on the XBOX. I reluctantly played with the 1997 Arizona Wildcats facing is 1991 UNLV Runnin Rebels knowing that he is a far better gamer. He beat me. I got teary

    March 13, 2012
  3. ..eyed. I left the room. He came to me and asked “Rematch, Mom?” I replied “No, son. And you must find a new place to live.”

    March 13, 2012
    • Thank you for sharing your soul with me. It gives me hope as a soon-to-be parent to see a mom do it right. Also, I hope your other kids beat the crap out of your son today. (Not really. But kind of.)

      March 13, 2012
  4. Rebecca #

    I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one…well, not for Uof A basketball but for OSU football. Can you image the suicide threat level in my house these last two falls? Or how about in 2008 when we were THISCLOSE to a Rose Bowl? I cried, sobbed, in Reser Stadium, on the drive home and any time someone mentioned Civil War for the next week. It was ugly. I love Beaver football more than my husband. And I’ve told him that.

    March 13, 2012
    • Well, let’s be honest, your husband doesn’t deserve to be loved as much as OSU football. (Actually, old-school OSU football was so undeserving of love that it was the equivalent of a husband who cheats on his wife with her sister, mother, cousin and grandpa.)

      March 13, 2012
  5. I don’t really care anymore. I am convinced the refs decide who wins or loses.

    March 13, 2012
    • If that’s the case, then all refs deserve the guillotine.

      March 13, 2012
      • How often does bad officiating change a game? I see it all the time.

        March 13, 2012
  6. Chip #

    Thank you Tyler for sharing your soul with us. This and the other reactions actually made me feel kind of superficial about my attachments. I know what it feels like to be on pins and needles watching a game and can understand the intensity of the immediate aftermath, but I can’t claim it ever lasts more than a few hours. I consider my resilience to all kinds of disappointment generally to be a strength but reading this I can’t help feeling I’m missing out on something, even if that something is endless anguish.

    March 13, 2012
  7. NoName #

    It’s just ridiculous that people take sports teams that seriously tbh

    August 26, 2014

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