Wednesday, April 9, 2008


So UCLA lost in the Final Four last Saturday. Their third trip in three years. 1-2 in FF games, 0-1 in championship games. Very humbling one hand but hard to complain about our overall success on the other. Some Kansas fan actually developed an interesting algorithm to determine how safe a lead was. For "fun" I put in UCLA's two biggest leads (4 points at 10-6, 16:13 and 5 points at 5-0, 18:00) as well as their last lead (12-11 at 15:27). Not surprisingly their leads were 0% safe. I hate basketball.

In other UCLA BBall news, the LA Times reports that Kevin Love is definitely going pro while Darren Collison is undecided. It even mentions the possibility of Shipp going (unlikely), Mbah a Moute declaring but not hiring an agent and likely coming back, Aboya staying in school but not playing (in order to get a masters degree), and Dragovic to go back to Serbia and play professionally (what?!?!?!?!). In another article, ESPN says they're both leaving as well as Russell Westbrook even though Love's mom is denying he made a decision.

One thing I was pondering in my semi-drunk stupor during the second half of UCLA's loss was how I (and so many other people) are so wrapped up in all this sporting hullabaloo. My rationalization is three-fold; I've played a LOT of basketball in my life, I went to school at UCLA, and watching the games is a chance to build community.

I played in youth leagues, Jr. High, High School, Intramurals, and adult leagues. I currently play with a bunch of guys on Tuesdays at a gym off of Venice. I probably pay more in gym fees for those 3 hours (or so) a week than I would if I were a member of Bally's. I truly enjoy playing and is one of the few ways I can be induced to run around and get some exercise.

I also graduated from UCLA in 2001. As I said, I played Intramurals there, saw a bunch of games while I was in school (although it was during the dark Lavin years and I stopped really going during my 2nd year and only attended sporadically until I got season tickets a couple years ago). My friends and I would see the players on campus, knew who they were, and had random encounters with them over the years (I got to help Ray Young with a pager problem once while my buddy almost got into an altercation with J.R. Henderson). We joked about drafting Jelani McCoy onto our IM team after he quit the real team for smoking pot.

But do those reasons adequately explain how caught up people get in the games? Does the joy of winning outweigh the negativity of loss? Is it just a reason to act like we did in college and remember our revisionist histories of when everything was great and we had no responsibilities (I say revisionist because while college was great I still somewhat remember drinking too much, eating too much, not having enough fun with the opposite sex, having no money, and stressing over school). Or is it a way we build community and shared experiences? I've been to the SF Salooon so much the past three Marches that I know who the owner is, his daughters, and even his wife. We know that he got new TVs this year and changed some of the booths but kept some of the tables that are a couple inches too short.

I guess that the overall experience is still gratifying since I'm still going to buy tickets for next year and will probably watch most games on TV. However, instead of going to every game it looks like a couple friends and I will band together so that we aren't obligated to go to all of them. I'm not sure if this means we're emotionally drained or just apprehensive about the prospects for next year's team. So I pay my money, hope the kids all make the best decisions for themselves (get your degree if you aren't a first round pick!), and wait to see if I catch the fever again next season.

1 comment:

tspwlv said...

Aw, you'll be back. If you came back after those awful Lavin years (BLACK uniforms? WTF?), you'll be back after 3 Final Four losses. And as you get older and have even more stress and responsibility, you'll enjoy being on campus and reliving a little bit of your "carefree" college years even more (I've heard).