Everyone deals with loss and sadness in different ways. Some people turn to their friends for support, while others look to find solace in the privacy of their own thoughts. Through my experiences, March always tends to be a particularly melancholy month. While spring has finally sprung and the sun is out and about, there’s a bizarre feeling of sorrow everywhere. One might claim this is due to Ithaca’s lack of warmth until April, but I’ve seen a similar misery in my perpetually sweltering home state of Texas. They say you can find a frowning face anywhere if you look hard enough, but you’ll never have troubling finding one in March. Through many years of research and introspection, I believe I have finally found the origin of this profound sadness: March Madness.
My Friday night began as a particularly relaxed evening. I sat on a couch with some friends in New Jersey watching random March Madness games, generally ignoring all responsibilities or potentially stressful thoughts. We finally decided to watch University of Texas vs. University of Northern Iowa, a seemingly predictable 6 and 11 seed matchup. As a Texas native, I was rooting for UT to come through with an easy win against University of Northern Iowa because UNI sounded like a make believe school. I don’t mean to be offensive, but UNI sounds more like an acronym for uniform than any actual university.
UT started off relatively slow, but we all knew they would come back in the second half. They had the March Madness guru of coaches, Shaka Smart, so we all figured he would lead them to success, just as his namesake Shaka Zulu did in the early 19th century. UT did end up coming back to tie it up with about 7 minutes to go, and the two teams kept it close for the remainder of the second half. With 2.7 seconds left, the game was tied and it was UNI’s ball. Paul Jesperson took the ball to half court with about a second left and heaved it up. The rest, as really fucking annoying people say, is history.
A lot of people say the fun in March Madness is the unpredictability of the games and the litany of underdog wins. To an extent, this is absolutely true. I loved watching Wisconsin win on a buzzer beater and Middle Tennessee knocking off Michigan State. However, the pain of being a Texas sports fan has never felt so real. This was supposed to be UT’s year to make a deep run in the tournament. We had the coaching, the team balance and the relatively easy bracket group, but UT found a way to lose. While the half court shot was somewhat miraculous, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t know it was going in the whole time. That’s just how Texas sports work.
The last time a Texas sports team had something to be happy about was when the Rockets came back to beat the Clippers last year, only to be dismantled by a Golden State team that was probably better than the Eastern Conference All Star team that year. For the most part, it’s always been okay to be a Texas sports fan because you could always drown your sorrows in barbeque sauce or Lone Star beer. Being away from home makes things a lot more difficult. There’s no community to cry with. Dinosaur BBQ is too far. Lone Star isn’t sold at every gas station. Life is hard.
UNI was the ultimate Cinderella. That is until they blew a 12 point lead with 42 seconds to go against A&M, which also happens to be UT’s second biggest rival, right behind Oklahoma University. Oh also, OU is still in the tournament and they arguably have the most exciting player in all of college basketball. If you need to find me, look for me under a pool of tears in my bed.
Akshay Jain is a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. College Stuff appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.