The morning after.
It sucks. It’s hard.
You wake up and your brain is in a fog, and then all the broken pieces start to come together, and you remember…we lost yesterday.
I’m always all-in with my Jayhawks, and losses have always been hard, but in 1998 KU had a team that was so dominant they only lost 1 game in overtime all season long. I lived and died with that KU team. Coming in to the NCAA tournament they were the overwhelming favorite to win the national championship. And then along came Mike Bibby and Arizona in the Sweet 16. We lost. We finished 34-2. Ever since that loss that crushed me, I’ve learned, like so many coaches tell us fans, “to enjoy the ride”.
College basketball is a crazy, unpredictable game. Especially in today’s game with so many “one-and-done” players. Why does everyone enjoy the ncaa tournament? Well, that’s an easy answer(s) – the bracket pools (which I would never take part in because they’re illegal 😉 and the upsets that happen during the tournament. We love to cheer for the underdogs.
We love it when David beats Goliath.
That’s why it’s hard to be a Kansas basketball fan.
I’m thankful to be born into a family who are crimson and blue through and through.
We are college basketball royalty. With our history and traditionKU is and never will be the underdog.
Kansan by birth, Jayhawk by the grace of God.
KU is a blue-blood program.
The inventor of the game James Naismith was our first coach.
University of Kentucky and the University of North Carolina’s basketball arenas are named after Kansans and alumni of KU.
Adolph Rupp (University of Kentucky) and Dean Smith (University of North Carolina) both attended and played at KU under Phog Allen.
With the lofty status comes yearly expectations (strong desires) of Final 4 and nothing less. I have those expectations myself, and while that might seem a bit cocky I’m glad my school is so successful that we expect nothing less. Thus, when KU loses in the tournament we not only are depressed we also have to endure pot-shots from people who love to see Goliath go down; from those who would rather cheer for us losing than see their own team succeed.*
The NCAA tournament turns college basketball into a crazy thrill ride with ups, downs, and loopty-loops that sometimes leave us wanting more, and sometimes make us sick to our stomachs. The morning after an NCAA loss feels like the morning after a night of binge drinking…and probably similar to morning sickness (although personally I’ve never experienced the latter so I can not give a specific account of the similarity between the two). You can’t do anything about it – you just have to endure it and get through it. Unfortunately, the earlier in the tournament your team loses the harder it is to endure because the tournament lasts for 3 weeks.
If you want to enjoy a couple team sports where the long season proves who is the best team you should follow European soccer or Major League Baseball. I love both sports/leagues.
But I love the NCAA tournament and my Jayhawks even more.
This is going to be a long next two weeks.
I’m appreciative of friends who are respectful to me after a loss. And I have many friends who know how I love my Jayhawks and they are genuinely kind to me after a loss. And then I have Mizzou friends…I don’t need to belabor this point any further. (see above *)
I try hard to refrain from replying to people who are on social media solely looking to provoke a reaction.
Provoking a reaction isn’t the same thing as saying something significant.
– Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes
KU has given me so many thrilling memories and amazing history to be part of…
- 5 national titles
- 14 Final 4s
- 10 straight conference titles
- #2 school in all-time wins
- deep tournament runs
- countless All-Americans
- all of my Allen Fieldhouse memories
- consistently a #1 or #2 seed in the NCAA tournament
…that I’m glad I won’t have to stoop to enjoying another’s school loss moreso than what my own school, or conference, can accomplish.
Being a KU fan is funny at times. We do not have to endure the similar drama of bubble teams and whether or not we will make the NCAA tournament – we haven’t missed the tournament since 1989. KU-drama is worrying about what uniforms we are going to wear in the tournament.
Tangential Sidenote – CBS should be ashamed and needs to stop showing the pictures of crying children. It happened two years ago with Hoiberg’s young son and today with a young KU fan and also a young Wichita State fan. Yes, it shows the passion of the fan-base…kindof…they’re children who believe their lives are over if they lose. But more importantly in today’s world of social media those scenes are made into tweets and posts that are like wildfire all across social media.
I have an annual tradition. After KU loses in the tournament I focus on what I have to look forward to in the future. It helps relieve the sting of the loss and bring my (in)sanity back to a level of “normal”.
I’ve got so many great things going on and things to look forward to:
- a great job I genuinely enjoy.
- Springtime! Everything is blooming, things are green, and more people are enjoying the outdoors.
- the Kansas City Royals – hope springs eternal in spring, although with David Glass as owner the hope only lasts for a couple weeks
- Sporting Kansas City
- the Masters on tv
- working on lowering my handicap
- grilling steaks, pork chops, steaks, steaks and some more steaks
- perfecting the art of smoking meats – brisket, ribs, and pulled pork
- enjoying cigars while outside
- vacation to Mexico
- vacation to Florida
…and most importantly
…my awesome Wife and my awesome Son.
I listed all the fun and important things I have to look forward to, but it also doesn’t hurt that I have a full bottle of bourbon in the pantry for tonight.
It’s also cathartic.
You might say it’s a necessary medication.
You might say I’m only kidding.
Or you might not. 😉
Maybe writing this whole post is just cathartic for me.
The sun will rise tomorrow and I’ll remember my list of things…
Like I mentioned, this is going to be a long next two weeks.
But tonight it stings…and you know what? That’s ok.
Pour me another glass.