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It is really true when people tell you, “when one door closes, another opens”. In fact this quote has been modified time and time again to motivate, inspire, or just tell you to keep your head up.
“When one door closes another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” – Alexander Graham Bell
Sometimes…okay, most of the time, situations do not go in your favor, and you can either let it affect you, or do something about it to make YOUR situation better. Sometimes you just need to think of YOU.
The month of August was a stressful one. My international business and operational management classes really broadened my horizons for how naïve I am about the world outside of the U.S. I have always told myself that one of these days I will be throwing on a backpack (or rolling a suitcase) throughout Europe, seeing the sights and embracing different cultures. I’m not there yet, but one day, I know it will happen. Most of you don’t know that I was very close to going to grad school in London, England, but the timing just wasn’t right for me to leave. I’ll have my MBA come January and deciding to stick around was for the best and given me other chances to experience things I might not have been able to if I had chosen to study abroad. Sure it bummed me out at first, but I looked for the silver lining, and found it. It allowed me to work some of the most amazing sporting events and meet some awesome people. It is not often people see me NOT happy because at the end of the day, there is always someone who has it worse…
Who said real life decisions can’t be funny? With that being said…the ups and downs of the past few months have given me the opportunity to travel up and down the east coast during the month of August and…well, starting tonight, I’m EUROPE bound!! I am beyond excited and definitely plan on documenting everything (no surprise there) in pictures.
I’m one to be very organized, make plans months in advance, and to have specific itineraries on what to do or where to go. But sometimes I can throw my stuff in a bag and just go somewhere for three or four days. When I went to Florida last month, I booked the flight on a Tuesday and was there that Saturday, and it was a great trip and much needed break. Toes in the sand and watching the waves of the ocean are nothing short of amazing.
Opportunities come and go but sometimes we need that extra push (or in some cases, shove) to force us into actually doing something about it. It could be a huge intervention, or small enough to seem insignificant, but this reality check is associated with school, work, life, anything. Pick something. It often includes having someone strong enough in your life that will be there to motivate you, but it doesn’t have to be a parental figure or family member, sometimes it is helpful even if it is some random person you talk to on occasion via Twitter.
I often feel like a cheerleader with my friends and I fully take on that role. I feed off the positive energy of others, but shouldn’t we all? This past Labor Day weekend I got to spend in NYC for my best friend’s birthday. Since she was coming from California, I decided to take off work for the weekend and spend it with her and our friends, first time in six years I was able to celebrate it! So. Much. Fun. My mood changed. It’s like with sports… when a team loses, specifically your team, you feel it and often it affects how you treat others around you. When your team wins, there’s no greater feeling of sharing that with everyone you know. (Go Vols, Go Skins!)
Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? They were the best because the choices that are made are ultimately up to us, so why can’t the same apply to us in real life? Well, the opportunity presented itself and so I’m headed to London, Brussels and Amsterdam for 10 days! I’m beyond excited to explore but even more excited to get back to share my experiences and see what new opportunities there are in store for me in the next few months! Be prepared for my return…I’m ready to shake things up!
It happens with sports. There’s a winner, and a loser – and sometimes, there are ties (re: soccer). The emotional side of sports makes whatever team you are cheering for, against or working for, exciting. The competitiveness outside of the game itself can involve anything from friendly bets, like wearing a rival t-shirt as a penalty, to betting on a game for high stakes and monetary value.
via rogersmith’s Flickr
But what do these games really do to us? Does winning and losing affect us more than we think? Is it more than just a game?
Let’s look at the evidence of these past few weeks. Its the time when you get to see grown men outright cry in happiness, sadness and any other emotion you can think of.
Starting with post season play, there is a lot that factors in. For example, after the Big East tournament, we see great players like St. John’s DJ Kennedy who tore his ACL, Chris Wright from Georgetown with a broken hand, and Kyrie Irving from Duke, still unable to play to support their respective teams. It can take a toll on not only the players involved, but their fan base who support them. No one wants to see anyone get hurt on the court, and for players like Kelsey Barlow from Purdue who makes mistakes off the court, well, that affects us, too.
96 hours of watching basketball non-stop…I have some thoughts:
Having worked the regional bracket in Washington, DC this past week, emotions were high then, too. The media relations and operations volunteer staff, led by Mex Carey, Georgetown Basketball’s SID, had one job to do. Make sure everything goes according to plan and keep everyone happy. Not an easy feat, but was accomplished, employing a staff that is hard working, and when given a task, can be trusted that it will be completed to the best of the staffers ability. Not only was there stress from a working stand point, the NCAA president was there, making sure everything was going according to plan. That, of course, put pressure on us to make sure things were going by the book. The National Collegiate Athletic Association is in charge, and in control, for a reason.
But from a fans perspective, emotions can take over. Think of it as if you were a Pittsburgh fan, with high expectations, who came up short to a last second call to a team like Butler. A Horizon league contender, who was not always in the spotlight during the year, despite being runners up last year to the National Champions, Duke in 2010.
Crushed, disappointed, anger, hatred, all words that come to mind after a loss like that. But what about if you’re a Butler fan? They had something to prove, as do many smaller leagues in college basketball. Traveling to DC, 492 miles away from their campus in Indianapolis, Indiana, knowing you might match up with a strong possible final four contender, and come out on top.
How would you feel? What about Shaka Smart and his VCU Rams, a play-in team, new to the tournament in the last couple of years. They are proving all experts wrong and making a bigger name for what it means to be a solid Cinderella team. There isn’t anything people can say that will bring the emotion of the game out of the emotion of everyone involved with a team.
Out of parents, coaches, friends, family, and outright fans, fair weather or not, and who do I feel the most for? The seniors. They bring leadership to the team we love so much to work for, watch, and continue to follow. We also feel for the athletes themselves who want to continue to succeed with their own goals on the court; beating an average, breaking your own record, maintaining a starting position.
With the latest sanctions and firing of Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, however, we have to be able to look towards the future, and try and prevent what has happened in the past, fixing the problems along the way. Emotions are involved here too, branching out to the families of the coaches affected, not to mention, the athletes future, and the student-fan base of the university involved. The NCAA has proved it doesn’t mess around if you break the rules. No one gets off scott-free. Looking closely, someone has to accept the blame, and unfortunately, a human price has to be paid.
But what would it have taken for him to keep his job, if anything? What if Tennessee had come out and played like they did against Pitt in December and made a Final Four run, would he still have been fired? It sparks an interesting debate.
No doubt will my friend Bruce be coaching somewhere in the next couple of years and trump us all in the NCAA tournaments to come. I will be the first to say I will closely follow whatever team has the pleasure of having him as a coach. Same thing with his assistants.
We sometimes forget that setting the groundwork for winning with any university or professional organization makes people want to be around you, anyway you slice it.
It not only means revenue for games, but helps with the university and organization as well. With college, freshman applications increase a large percentage after a national championship title, look it up, the statistics don’t lie.
People will find themselves flocking to be around someone, or anything, that has a winning record. Whether it is a program that succeeds academically, or athletically, it keeps the competitive edge going.
We want everyone to succeed, on and off the court, field or ice. Fortunately, and unfortunately for fans there were a lot of close game this year so far in the NCAA men’s and women’s tournaments, bracket busting fans all around the world. And we’re only half way through. Sometimes it’s more than just about the winning or losing of the game itself, but what happens beyond that and who is involved. When the basketball season is over, you can look to football season but also anxiously awaiting another 6 months til the madness resumes again. No doubt to fans think of questionable calls at the end of games, what if that basket had gone in? What if that kick went an inch or two more to the left? What if I had decided to follow a different team back in 1994? Do we remember a losing team? Sure we do. We don’t forget the agony of defeat..
Look at the Fab 5 and what they did for Michigan and the game of college basketball. Just because they didn’t win a championship, doesn’t make them “losers” necessarily.
The only thing we can do as fans, employees, and as people emotionally invested in the game itself, no matter what the sport, is hope for the best, and maintain our support in any way possible. And hey, throw in a little face paint every once in a while. Its good for the soul.
For even more reading, check out Ed The Sports Fan’s (@edthesportsfan) blog on reflections of watching 96 Hours of Basketball.
Auburn University is no stranger to the media this past year. Stemming from player allegations and the Heisman Trophy to the BCS National Championship. Nor is it a stranger to its biggest in-state rival, the University of Alabama. Auburn, known for having one of the best agricultural research facilities in the United States, was devastated to hear that the 130+ year old oak trees at Toomer’s Corner had been poisoned. A Bama fan, bitter after attending the Iron Bowl where unbeaten Auburn (#2 in AP at the time) came back from a 24–0 second quarter deficit over 9–2 Alabama (#9, AP) to beat the Tide in Tuscaloosa, 28–27. It was both the largest comeback in the history of Auburn football and the largest comeback ever allowed in Alabama football history.
This fan took it personally… intentionally using Spike 80DF on the trees, a herbicide that attacks through the roots and works it way up, destroying a true War Eagle tradition. Luckily, it isn’t something that is harmful to humans or toxic to animals unless ingested or exposed to in heavy doses. The main ingredient, tubuthiuron, poses a heavy and lasting threat to the trees that could stay in the soil for years. For more information on Spike 80DF go here. So, was there an alterior motive to what this Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr. guy was thinking? Not sure, but 18 years as a former Texas State Trooper, he definitely knew what he was doing and showed no remorse. The oak trees, located at the corners of Magnolia Avenue and College Street on AU’s campus, represent the spirit and pride of any Auburn celebration.
I have unfortunately, but fortunately witnessed this when I was on a road trip down to Auburn for a Tennessee football game. Its an unbelievable sight to see. But, throwing countless rolls of toilet paper and turning it into a TP wonderland? One might argue that its an ironic waste of trees, but the tradition has been going on for decades and the War Eagle’s take pride in it. The University has already starting working on efforts to save the trees. You can find out more here.
So this brings me to my topic of discussion. College rivalries…or really any sports rivalry: how far is too far? Where is the little guy on our shoulders that says to us, “hey, we should probably back off…”
Ranging from high school to professional sports, from in-state to out of state, and throughout the world, rivalries are all around us. Yankees-Red Sox, Ohio State-Michigan, Mavericks-Spurs, Lakers-Celtics, Army-Navy, and Oklahoma-Texas, just to name a few off the top of my head. Don’t get me wrong, I have been involved with rivalries starting as a die-hard Georgetown fan at a very young age. I would never dream of rooting for the Orange of Syracuse University. Even living in Maryland, about 30 minutes away from College Park, it was clear to everyone that Duke was the enemy. As I moved on to my college career at the University of Tennessee, sorry Gators, Gainesville is on the list, too. I didn’t really take anything seriously, though, or rather, realized the seriousness of what it means to have two schools rival with one another, until I started college. I witnessed some pretty wild stuff. As a student on campus of a university that gets emotionally invested (too much? no way!!) in the value of football and basketball, it turned me into having an ongoing love/hate relationship with people at these universities. I took a walk on the wild side a couple times, having dated two Florida Gators…boy was that interesting…but back to the point…how about some examples:
If any of you remember when Facebook (or, TheFacebook) was only open to colleges and when student athletes started to join, it would be in our best interests, as fans, to psyche out the competition, without crossing the line. A QB out of the SEC East signed up for Facebook and us Vols fans decided it would be hilarious (and it kind of was), to not add this guy as a friend, but simply “poke” him. Having to X out each one was not harmful, just really really annoying. Especially when you get thousands of pokes all at once. I remember hearing stories about other fans that had access to university fax lines where they would send full pages of black ink to the universities the morning of National Signing Day in record numbers to use up the toner. Crossing the line yet?
At Tennessee, The Rock is just as sacred as Toomer’s Corner. Used to express whatever students felt like, though, if offensive, it was often painted over with a happy birthday wish or a sorority promoting their philanthropy. I decided to go through my archive of old camera phone pictures, yep, still took them before the age of Android, and yep, still have the picture.
One Friday before game day, a certain message showed up on the rock that simply said this: The number was real, folks. Not sure how or who got a hold of it, but they posted it for all to see. To my surprise, it was left up, for days…Although the number was disconnected within a few short hours, this might have been an example of something that goes a little too far, especially when the threat of personal safety is involved. This is an argument that has gone on for centuries, citing no harm done….yet, just simple harassment. Sadly, there are plenty of opportunities for taking a step past appropriate, including the destruction of university property. Taking it a step further and actually attacking the people themselves is something I fear could happen far too easily in today’s society. The constant harassment is harmless, or is it? On a serious note, if taken further than just verbal abuse, could not only endanger athletes and coaches, but their families as well. What would it prove, anyway?
As a fan, we need to realize that from a business and marketing perspective, these rivalry games can mean big revenue and a major increase in merchandise sales, not to mention sway highschoolers to apply to these schools and give money to the University. (and yes, I’ve seen where admissions have gone WAY up when you win championships, check the stat books).
We all want to be a part of something special and proud to don our colors no matter how obnoxious it can be (Tennessee Orange?) We hope that it can continue on for years to come without the threat of harm to anyone. I feel that it is important to surround myself with people who can positively support their team. Sure, add in some heavy cursing from time to time, crude posters, and even “hulk out” during games when something goes wrong. (Lets not talk about the Vols and the LSU/UNC games this year. *Sigh*)
My point is this: Regardless of hatred, or love, or loyalties, there is NO reason, or right, to destroy university or personal property nor intentionally attack someone with verbal threats, physical harm, or anything of a serious nature. Period. Bring back the friendly(ish), entertaining aspect of what a rivalry is. Bring back face paint. Bring back sleeping outside 10 hours before a big game and getting really really sick after, but knowing it was worth it. Take more pictures. Cherish these moments with your friends and families.
(via Hoya Blue)
(via All Metro Sports)
and most importantly, show the support of your team, whoever it may be, the right way. Oh, if you’re going to talk smack to an opponent, know your stats and at least Google some information to talk about.
Go Hoyas. Go Vols. Tradition doesn’t graduate.