"You had it coming."

For those of you scoring at home, I'm watching the end of Rocky III as I write this. This is the one with Mr. T. I don't know whether to laugh or cheer.

That's an improvement over last night - my choices were "cry" or "throw up on the floor."

(Give me a moment. I am distracted by Mr. T's mohawk...

...OK, Rocky knocked him out. I can continue...)

Going into the Kansas State game last night, most of the teams competing against the Texas Longhorns for a berth in the National Championship game had lost. After blasting a good Oklahoma State team last week, the Longhorns looked like a good enough bet to make the Big 12 Championship in Kansas City that Tommy and I had already bought tickets to the game (Tommy even bought a one-way non-refundable plane ticket). Colt McCoy, the babyfaced assasin of a freshman quarterback, was breaking records left and right. Texas looked to be in a terrific position to defend the National Championship that they won in the Rose Bowl (maybe I've mentioned this once or twice). A win over Kansas State, and Tommy and I were going to KC...

(Rocky IV just started. This is the one where he fights the Russian. A robot just walked in with a birthday cake for Uncle Paulie. But I digress...)

...so the K-State game starts off fine - Colt leads the team to a touchdown to open the game. Then the following chain of events transpires:

1) Colt walks off injured, visibly wincing when the coaches touch his shoulder.
2) K-State scores on a pass play. They have a good freshman quarterback too, a guy named Josh Freeman.
3) Texas tackles the punter on a fake, then scores to go up 14-7. Our backup quarterback Jevan Snead is in the game. He's talented, but he was also in high school at this time last year.
4) K-State goes back down the field and ties the game at 14.
5) K-State scores again on a run to go up 21-14. The half ends with this score.
6) We learn at halftime that Colt ain't coming back. We are relying on Snead to bring us back.
7) Texas blocks a punt to begin the second half, then scores to tie the game at 21. They then stop K-State (which they couldn't do in the first half) and get the ball at midfield and drive it to the K-State 30. We're thinking that order is restored...

(Apollo Creed is going to fight the Russian. There is a sense of forboding in the movie. How appropriate to my narrative...)

8) ...and Jamaal Charles fumbles. 3 plays (including 2 trick plays) later, K-State goes ahead 28-21.
9) Texas gets the ball back, Selvin Young fumbles, and K-State scores on the next play. 35-21.
10) K-State blocks a punt and scores again to make it 42-21. Let me mention that 8,9, and 10 transpired in three minutes. Jeff (who I watched the game with) and I are in shock. We start calling friends to commiserate.
11) Texas scores quickly and closes to 42-28. I call Ellen (a one time K-State Wildcat) and let her know what is happening. I would describe her as "revelling in unrestrained glee at the news, and completely unsympathetic." I promise to text her updates.
12) 4th Quarter. Texas intercepts a pass, then scores a TD on the next play to make it 42-35. I feel confident we will come back and win...

(Much like Apollo did when James Brown sang "Living in America" in the prelude to his fight with the Russian...)

13) Texas and K-State trade failed drives, then Texas stops the Wildcats at the 34 with 3 minutes left. Jeff and I are thinking, "Hey, we will have one more shot to tie this up..."
14) ...and then K-State kicks a 51-yard field goal and goes up 45-35 with 3 minutes left. Things look bad. Real bad...
15) ...then Texas drives for a quick TD to bring the score to 45-42. 2 minutes left.
16) Texas fails to recover the onside kick, stops K-State for 2 downs...
17) ...then gives up the fatal first down. Ballgame...

I text Ellen the score, and she responds, "You had it coming".

She's probably right. I handled the loss pretty well (Didn't break anything or scream uncontrollably), but I again found myself asking, "Why do I care so much about this team? Why do I allow them to draw me in again and again? Is the heartache worth it?"

The short answer is, "Yes, it is worth it, because of January 4th and Vince Young." The long answer would be (oddly enough) a riff on a quote from a Colin Firth movie...

It's good for your soul to invest in something that you can't control.

(The Russian just killed Apollo, then coldly uttered the words "If he dies, he dies." I just thought I'd mention this...)

This may be reaching (Let me know if it is), but I'll go ahead and write this: I think there are a lot of similarities between loving a sports team and loving a person. You are asked to remain true to your team/person through thick and thin, to invest time and emotion on the team/person, and to pick them up when they fail and celebrate like mad when they succeed. If January 4th taught me anything, it's that the good days make the bad ones worth the commitment. I could say the same about all the truly good relationships I've been fortunate enough to experience...

I'm not saying that supporting a team should ever, ever take the place of any relationship, whether it be a friendly one or a romantic one. What I am saying is that supporting a team, if done in a healthy way, can teach you in part how to love someone. The aforementioned Colin Firth movie, Fever Pitch, explores this theme more fully (Avoid the horrible Jimmy Fallon remake about the Boston Red Sox.).

(I fully understand that could be wrong about this. Let me know if I am.)

So that's all I've got. I'll be fine as long as we beat the Aggies on the day after Thanksgiving...


At 9:30 PM, Blogger Aaron said...

You left out the best line of Rocky III, when the following dialogue transpires...

Reporter: What's your prediction for the fight?
Mr T: My prediction?
Reporter: Yes, your prediction
Mr T (looking into the camera with a constipated look on his face): Pain!


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