A friend of mine referred to tonight’s NCAA Championship game as the “Radway Special.” That’s because the game pits my home-town team, the one I have been cheering for for 24-years (Duke) vs. my amazing, too fun not to love, alma mater (Wisconsin)
For years this was one of those worst case scenario “What if” conversations my friends would try to stump me with. No one could quite understand my love for Duke Basketball and how I could possibly continue to cheer for them after attending Wisconsin, a school with its own shining athletic program.
Anytime I said I was a Duke fan I had to quickly supply a reason… “I am from Durham!”, “My mom taught at Duke for 20+ years”, “I basically grew up on the campus,” “I have a 1992 Sports Illustrated signed by Bobby Hurley!” Eventually most people would relent. “I guess that make sense” they’d mumble.
As any college basketball fan knows cheering for Duke is a sin. And even if you have a legitimate reason your fandom is always on trial.
To make matters more complicated I went to an amazing school that I am so proud to have graduated from. Telling people you went to The University of Wisconsin is like saying you are a member of an exclusive club. Nothing could be better than spending four years in Madison. The lakes (Mendota and Monona) the beer, the brats, the cheese curds, the farmer’s market, the academics and the sports are legendary.
When Wisconsin beat Kentucky (Yes, I was jumping up and down, physically shaking as the final seconds ticked off the clock) I got text after text “What are you going to do?” “Who are you cheering for?” “Congrats?”
I still have no idea how to answer any of those questions. Perhaps it will be like when you watch a big game with no allegiances…naturally you start to cheer for one side without even being able to explain it. At least that is what I am telling myself. I can’t imagine definitively picking a side.
No matter what, I will be thrilled that a team I cheer for is going to cut down a net tonight and heartbroken for the one that falls just short. So until the game tips off I will set out to read every preview, watch every TV segment and generally bask in the weirdness that is “The Radway Special”