Thursday, January 05, 2006

Rose Bowl

I love college football. I'm not like your average guy who likes college football, who can tell you who rushed for how many yards, or who even knows the names of all of the different positions. I can rarely tell you any team's record on the season. But none of this changes the fact that I love it. It's an incredibly fun game to watch, and it reminds me of being in college.

What also reminds me of being in college is the fact that I have a friend, Becky, who is IN college right now. This is the first college friend I've had in 6 years, since I graduated from college. (That's right. Six years ago.) She makes me feel old most of the time, even though she's only three years younger than me, but she often also makes me nostalgic for my days in undergrad. And it's because of her that I've watched so much college football this season.

She goes to USC, and Chrissie lives right down the street from Sharkeez, a known USC bar in Manhattan Beach. So the lot of us have hauled our asses down to Sharkeez to watch USC games through the course of the season. I've maybe seen four games this season, which is really a record for me.

Naturally, Becky roots for USC. I have nothing solid against USC, but I'm always a fan of the underdog. I think this comes from growing up around a continuous feeling of immense disappointment when it comes to sports. When you come from Northeastern Ohio and your family roots for Cleveland teams, you get really used to losing... or even worse, coming close to winning, and losing anyway.

I discovered last night there's a very good reason I don't follow sports. I like watching almost any sport, but if I'm at all emotionally invested in the game or who's playing, it's simply too much for me. I've rooted against USC all season because, COME ON, they needed to lose a game. They haven't lost a game in 2 years. Also, they cheated during the Notre Dame game, ADMITTEDLY. Every team that has played USC this year has been the underdog.

All day yesterday, I told everyone I was rooting for Texas in the Rose Bowl. I added that I thought USC would win, and I would be happy for the home team, but I was rooting for Texas. Six minutes from the end of the game last night, after two missed field goal attempts on Texas's part (one for an extra point, one for 3 points), I was ready to leave the bar. I was annoyed. I told Chrissie, Texas doesn't even deserve to win this game! USC is playing better! I decided to stay, despite the fact that Texas was, at this point, two touchdowns behind.

Keep in mind, I don't REALLY care about either team. I have no emotional attachment to Texas... on the contrary, I HATE Texas for producing George W. Bush and continuing to vote him into office. I hate everything Texas stands for. But dammit, I was going to pissed if USC won this game.

During the last minute of the game, when Vince Young failed to complete two passes, and found himself in a 4th down with five yards to go, my heart was racing. I was on my feet. The score was 38 33, with USC winning. The bar, full of USC fans and maybe six Texas fans total, was filled with screams and hoots. Vince Young scored the winning touchdown with maybe 26 seconds on the clock. After the two point conversion, the score was 41 38, Texas, and with only 19 seconds left, not even Reggie Bush could carry the ball back into the end zone. And for the first time this season, in what I have to say was a moment of silent revenge on a team I had rooted against all season, Sharkeez was full of dark red and yellow, and was... quiet. USC's fans sat, stunned, staring at the 40 televisions in the bar, hoping to find one that produced a different outcome. USC has won every single game for the past 2 years... and this, arguably the most important game of the season... they lost. THEY LOST!

Needless to say, Chrissie and I, for fear of our lives, waited until we were outside to celebrate. Chrissie walked down Highland screaming, I HATE USC! And then whispering to me, I can't believe USC lost.

After realizing how emotional I can get during a football game I don't even care about, I kept saying, THIS IS WHY I DON'T WATCH SPORTS! It was too much. But this morning, I woke up sad to realize that college football is over for another year, and am wondering maybe if last night is why I DO watch sports when I can... picking a side is fun, screaming and drinking beer is fun, the adrenaline rush is amazing. Also... it feels SO GOOD to have your team win, especially if it rarely happens.

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