Tag Archives: razorbacks

Madness

17126701_1108437092601567_4197244785582407680_nBasketball used to be my thing.  I thought about it all day, every day, and dreamed about it at night–and sometimes still do.  Hour after hour alone in the driveway getting sunburned, soaked in rainstorms, and frozen in the snow and ice.  Dreaming I was Dr. J.  Dreaming I was an Arkansas Razorback.  Dreaming I was the hero of a state championship game for the C.R.A. Falcons.  Alone in my dreams.

Basketball became my community.  Countless practices.  Pickup games anywhere there were players and some version of a ball and goal.  My very best friends and mortal enemies.  Jammed fingers.  Shirts and skins.  Dunk goals.  Make-it, take-it.  We got next.  Cut-off t-shirts and short shorts.  High tops and two pairs of socks, pushed down to be cool.  Arguments and hurt feelings.  High fives and heroics.

Popular culture fueled my obsession.  “Hoosiers” hit the big screen when I was in high school, the peak of my love affair with the sport.  Rap music became a thing, and I wore out a cassette learning every word of Kurtis Blow’s “Basketball.”  Thanks to an NBA commercial, the Pointer Sisters’ “Let’s Get Excited” became my warm-up song–even though I don’t think that’s what they were talking about.

I was valedictorian of my high school class and had options, I suppose, but all I cared about was basketball.  Since I wasn’t talented enough to play at the college level, my attention shifted to coaching.  I made every home game at Barnhill Arena during my college years.  Rollin’ with Nolan.  Dreaming that I would some day coach in the madness of March.

I remember the exact day my basketball dreams began a rapid disintegration.  It is hard to forget since it was one week before my wedding.  Appropriately, I was playing basketball in a outdoor three-on-three tournament at a local festival when a nasty fall shattered my right leg in three places.  Emergency surgery led to a four night hospital stay, released in enough time to make it to my wedding in a wheelchair.  In sickness and in health, right?  

In 1994, I began a love that has grown stronger year after year, and maybe not ironically, began to lose my feelings for basketball.  With my broken leg, after the lengthy recovery, I learned that I just couldn’t play all out anymore, and that stole all the fun.  I really don’t follow basketball much anymore.  Sure, I root for my Pepperdine Waves, and sure, I fill out an annual bracket and will be rooting for the old alma mater today as they take on Seton Hall (Go Hogs!), but it is no longer the center of my life.

I’m not sad about this.  I follow other sports as a spectator and am now somewhat obsessed with running.  But what I learned is that it is possible to walk away from something that was once important to you without regrets.  What is not okay, at least in my book, is pretending something is important and then doing it halfway.

This Could Be Our Year

After some time apart, which we both agreed was a good idea, Football Season has come back into my life.  We are both excited.

My team of choice hails from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and is known as the Razorbacks, or more colloquially, “the Hogs.”  Well, team of “choice” is probably wrong: the Razorbacks are mine as my alma mater and as a natural born citizen of the State of Arkansas.  I bleed Razorback red.  (Sure, everyone bleeds that color; I’m just proud of it.)

This could be our year.  Okay, we all know that it’s not going to be our year.  We are (generously) picked in the middle of the pack in just our half of the conference.  Five of our twelve games are against preseason ranked teams—and we are unranked.  And I should admit that it has never been our year, at least not since 1964, which was the year the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show and Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty.

But watch out Louisiana Tech!  Razorback Stadium will be rocking on Saturday afternoon, decked out in blazing red and calling the Hogs, and Razorback Nation including fans from Fayetteville to transplants in of all places Malibu, California, will tune in and dream that somehow, against all odds, this turns out to be our year.  Knowing that it won’t.

So what exact flavor of stupidity is this sport?  It seems to be an annual recipe for national depression redeemed only in part by a shared hatred of Alabama.  Oh, but it is not.  Most definitely not.  No, in the pursuit of the lofty prize that only one (darn Alabama) will receive, we will experience the most amazing moments.  Guaranteed.  Every year.  I have never experienced a Razorback national championship football season, but I was there for the Miracle on Markham in 2002.  I was there in 2007 when we took down top-ranked LSU in Death Valley in multiple overtimes.  What memories!

There is one lesson that I tried to instill in my daughters using my very best fatherly-advice voice: Have a goal in life and go for it, but don’t get too caught up in the destination.  Wonderful things happen on the journey toward our crazy dreams.

#WPS