In March of 2008, I’d just moved back home to Arkansas from Kentucky. I’d spent a year and a half in the confines of the crazies of the Bluegrass State and their crazy passion for all things “Big Blue”…especially during basketball season. This was before Coach Cal came and saved the day…and got back into more Coach Cal trouble…so I experience Kentucky sport fans at their lowest. It was a sad, sorry sporting world with sorrow-filled faces and forlorn frowns. I was all excited to move back home to a sane sports scene. That lasted about a week.
In light of the Arkansas Razorbacks football team getting ready to play their biggest game in recent history, here’s a post I wrote just a few days after arriving back to the Natural State in 2008. Here’s a for-sure area where I’m really rooting against evolution: I’m praying the path to pathetic has ended for Arkansas sports fans and that we can just have a good time rooting on our favorite team. Go Hogs!
Everyone Must Be Out To Get Us! / March 17, 2008
I am a huge Arkansas Razorbacks fan. The rest of my state…is not. Don’t believe me? Hear me out.
As a young Arkansas, you’re naturally taught to believe that the rest of WORLD is out to get us. That’s expected. After all, Arkansas is the smallest state in the South and the smallest state west of the Mississippi in the continental U.S. of A. We have LMS…Little Man Syndrome. We’re convinced that we’re hated. Of course the Bobby Petrino hiring backlash only confirmed that. That and the fact that every where I go I only hear about the negative contributions of Bill Clinton to our country. So that’s all a given, right? But who knew that there was another large group in the fight to steal our Hog Happiness? And who knew that the biggest enemy to just enjoying Arkansas sports for what it is is sitting there in our backyard? Let’s hop in the Hog-mobile to figure all this out.
Over the weekend, Arkansas stormed to the finals of a natural-disaster plagued SEC basketball tournament. The Hogs made the finals of the tourney in both football and basketball last year before losing to Florida. The Gators ended up winning the national title in both of those sports, so if you’re going to lose the conference championship to some team, they might as well go on to win it all. The crazy part about all of this, is that you wouldn’t know any of this from any Arkansas fans. For some reason they stumble around the state like the biggest kicked puppy in the history of sports. Granted, I’ve been living in different parts of the country for some time now, so the pain and agony that they’ve apparently collectively felt over these years may be tangible, but people here actually expect our state school to lose. In fact, in the Houston Nutt football-era, they HOPED for the team to lose! But that’s a whole different story.
I am a sports-a-holic. I love it and talk it and sleep it and would eat it if not for the fact that Wheaties really have no flavor. I even worked in the sports business as a TV reporter and anchor for a year and a half. But I draw the line with sports at the word sport:
Watching a Razorbacks game with friends and family from home can be a particularly painful experience. There’s more mumbling than Slingblade and more raw emotions than Jane Austen ever felt. There’s a whole lot of, “Watch this…they’re about to screw up again!” Even more of, “Why does he do that EVERY time?” And of course, a healthy dose of, “I can’t even watch them play.” Is it the middle child in me screaming out or can’t we all just sit back and watch some athletes try as hard as they can to win a GAME?!
NOW BACK TO THE PRESENT…
You see…I’d like to think things have changed. But after sitting at my parent’s house last week to watch the Georgia game…in which my Step-Father turned off the TV with a couple minutes remaining because the Hogs were losing (What? They weren’t losing? They were tied? Dang…should’ve told Pops that!)…I realized that some things never change. My resolution? I have two:
1 / Pray the Razorbacks do the impossible and take down the #1 team in the Land.
2 / Watch the game with people who understand these are college kids under impossible amounts of pressure lining up against some of the best athletes in the world…and they’re doing the best they can. Enjoy the spectacle for what it is: Sport!
Now Woo Pig! Enjoy the game.