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 and then, on your deathbed, she confesses, “By the way, none of our kids are yours.”
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?
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.
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.