The year was 1990 and I had just committed to the University of Connecticut for college. I wasn’t exactly happy. I was a bit of a spoiled brat and really wanted to go to college out-of-state. I wanted to go to a “cool” college and not some dumb state school. My family’s finances said otherwise, so UCONN it was. That spring, during the “Dream Season,” I remember watching my dad freak out when the men’s basketball team won their first Big East Tournament. “And the crowd goes wild” doesn’t even begin to describe it. He was doubly thrilled that this was going to be my Alma Mater in a matter of months. Later on the news, we saw the pandemonium that ensued on campus that night. Mattresses were tossed into the common areas and lit on fire; toilet paper and garbage was everywhere. There was definitely some public drunkenness goin’ on. People were
rioting having fun. I looked at it through my naïve, country bumpkin eyes and wondered “You want me to go THERE?”
Eventually, I got over my apprehension. I started a fantastic college career in the Fall of 1990 which included joining a sorority, making a ton of friends and becoming an avid UCONN HUSKY fan of all kinds of sports. If you had asked me then, I would have said I definitely bled blue. I lived in dorms that were filled with athletes and got to know many of them. I was never athletic myself, but I loved being a part of the excitement and sometimes idiocy. My dad would take my roommates and me to football games. He would coach us on what was going on in the game so we could talk to our friends at parties later and not seem like dumb girls. I feel like I was really lucky to go to a school that inspired such school spirit starting with their teams. It’s one thing to be a fan of your school’s team and get your rah-rah on, but to be a fan of a nationally ranked, WINNING team? Oh yeah, that was pretty cool. (Oh and I went to a few classes and kept up a decent GPA too!)
Then I graduated. I moved on. I stayed in Connecticut, obviously, but for me, life moved on. I had other things to do. I had to join the real world, get a job and all that. Got married, had a kid and here I am. There was no time to be a fan. Now look at what’s going on in Connecticut. People all around me, including my own family, are busting with excitement over UCONN Husky this, and UCONN Husky that. You can’t get away from it. I didn’t even realize it was basketball season until I saw the news last week. People who know me from college will probably be disturbed to know that my daughter only has one UCONN t-shirt and it was a hand-me-down from her cousin! I had to dig it out of a box in the attic so she could wear it to a last-minute spirit day at school. She doesn’t even know what the Huskies are, just that the shirt has a cute doggie on it! I don’t own a single piece of UCONN apparel myself.
The fanaticism in Connecticut over the Huskies is out of control. It seems absurd that we act like we invented basketball. Even people who haven’t set foot on the UCONN campus are die-hard fans. I just don’t get it. I was never a fan of basketball. I didn’t follow it before I went to college and didn’t follow it after I left. I only followed it during college because it was just part of the culture and it was fun to watch the people you knew play the game. For me, it was all because I had that personal connection with the university. But that’s over. I have no desire to relive those glory days. I am the anti-fan, you could say.
Does my confession make me an outcast among my peers and family? Possibly. But while you were watching basketball last night, I was enjoying a lovely dinner with my daughter. She told me a story about a fairy mermaid who has sea creature friends. It was the most fascinating thing I’d heard all day. After dinner, I went to a meeting so that I could volunteer my time as her Girl Scout leader. Then, I went home and passed out. Day was done. I had nothing left to give my family or myself. The Huskies didn’t even make the list last night. (I saw a billboard on my way to work this morning announcing the big win.)
I’m not saying that being a fan isn’t worth it. Trust me, I love me some Red Sox baseball, win or lose. But for me, college was a long time ago. I’ve moved on to being a fan of something more important: my daughter. Someday, when she grows up and starts looking at colleges, maybe I’ll do what my dad did when it was my turn. I’ll jump on that bandwagon and cheer as loud as anyone for the “home team.” Until then, I’m keeping my focus on my home team. Go Zoey!