If you’re not a college sports fan, you’re really missing out. Sure there’s something to be said about the passion and dedication of some of professional sport’s craziest fans. I watched the city of Seattle this past postseason. I’ve been in the heart of Kenmore Square immediately after the Red Sox won the World Series. And I won’t even get into the ridiculous and superstition that ensues every May for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But I would argue that none of this compares to the emotion you get from following a college sports team.
College sports will take you to the highest highs and drag you to the lowest lows. I’m currently 32 thousand feet above the ground on a very delayed flight to Chicago. I should have been on the ground eight hours ago eating as much deep-dish pizza as my stomach could possibly stand, but instead I’m on my third airplane of the day fighting through turbulence toward an airport that might not even allow us to land once we get there because weather is so bad.
After calling and updating my family on the current situation, I’ve noticed a common theme. “Are you really going through all this trouble for a couple of hockey games?”
Yes. I am. I’ve embarked on this journey because the Boston University hockey team has an away weekend against Notre Dame. And I’m not alone. Twenty college students who frequent Ramen Noodles and PBR bought their plane tickets and rental cars without a second thought. Twenty college kids who drove 14 hours to Michigan back in October for another couple of games. Twenty college kids who have been following this hockey team across the Northeast for the past five months and have yet to see a road win.
Sometimes college sports drag you to the lowest of lows.
My first love was the Syracuse Orangemen. My grandfather had football season tickets and unlimited time during his retired years to travel across the country much like I am now to follow his Orange. Every other Friday night my mom and I would hop in the car and drive the two hours to Syracuse, tailgate out of the back of my grandpa’s van, follow the Pride of the Orange Marching Band to the Carrier Dome, and cheer like crazy for Cuse. You’d be surprised at how many different shades of orange one can contain in their closet.
Eventually I came to college in Boston and had to leave the Orange behind, but they will always have a special place in my heart. Sitting in Raising Cane’s in the middle of Boston last night in my neon orange was rough. I knew Syracuse needed to lose eventually. You don’t pull off two miraculous comebacks against Pitt and NC State and continue to go undefeated. It was only a matter of time.
But not against Boston College. Anyone but Boston College. I hate the Eagles. A hatred that cannot possibly be understood by a non-college sports fan. The passion behind the BU/BC rivalry is the epitome of college sports culture. You learn to hate the Eagles before you even register for your first class at Boston University. It’s engrained in our brains from the moment we step onto Comm Ave. I pity anyone who wasn’t at Agganis Arena on November 30, 2012 when BU finally beat BC at home for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The building was electric. College sports can bring you to the highest highs.
Unfortunately Syracuse will have to wait another year to see what that feels like against the Eagles. BC won 62-59. A 25-1 record for the Orange. I’ve never been so happy to be leaving the city of Boston.
A week prior I had been sprinting around my apartment screaming Tyler Ennis’s name. Highs and lows.
College basketball was never my main sport. I grew up on football and clearly became a bit of a hockey fan after coming to BU. When I moved into Warren Towers in September of 2010, I didn’t know anything about the Terriers. I had no idea they had paraded by my new home just one year prior after winning the National Championship. All I knew was that I wanted to join the band. It wasn’t the Pride of the Orange, but it would have to do.
It didn’t take long for me to get sucked in. Agganis Arena pulled me back week after week and next thing I knew I was dropping $300 for a trip out to South Bend, Indiana because once a week wasn’t enough of a fix. College sports will do that to you.
BU hockey may not be what it was five years ago, but there are twenty college kids in the air over Ohio right now who are already in too deep. Any postseason run will more likely than not be a very brief affair for the Terriers, yet here we are.
This is why I needed Syracuse to beat Boston College. I needed the highs with the lows.
Luckily the Terriers basketball season has been a different story. With a victory over American University Wednesday night, the Terriers took a solid lead in the Patriot League and crept even closer to another shot at the Big Dance. While Agganis attendance has been dwindling lower and lower with every hockey loss, hopefully this team can draw the crowds back to cheer on a serious March Madness contender.
I know at least twenty people who will be leaving Chicago on the first flight out Sunday morning to get back in time for a noon tip-off. College sports does crazy things to a person.
As we approach midnight and the Eastern border of Illinois, all I can think about is how wonderful a weekend sweep of the Fighting Irish would be. Nothing would make me happier after the past 36 hours. But let’s be honest, I’ll be back on the road next weekend regardless of the outcome of this one. At least we’ve accepted that we couldn’t possibly get any lower with this hockey team. We might as well sit back and enjoy the ride.
Maybe I didn’t do a good job selling college sports. I won’t lie; it’s a brutal emotional roller coaster. But there’s no better feeling in the world. There’s something about a group of kids who have nothing but heart and pride for their school driving them to swish one more buzzer beater or slip one more puck past their rivals from the other end of Comm Ave. It drives you to give all your heart and pride right back to them. And it’s a very slippery slope. Get in too deep and you may find yourself feeling at your lowest low while 32 thousand feet above the ground.