Scenes from Round 1

If you’re a college basketball fan, and I am, then this may sound completely normal to you.  If not, well, whatever I guess.  When I was a teenager I used to think one of the coolest things ever would be a chance to be on the NCAA men’s basketball tournament selection committee.  Your job is to literally watch a boat load of games and seed the field of 64.  Yeah, awesome.  However, short of that ever coming to fruition, I thought it’d be pretty cool to have tickets to one of the regionals and go and watch the whole set of first and second round games.  And, as luck would have it, Des Moines is hosting a regional for the second time in in the last few years.  And, for the second time, we have tickets.

Turns out it really is awesome.  But it was even more awesome this year than the first time.  Why?  These were available:Defleppardbeers

25 oz. beers for $11.  I know, bargain.  Not only did it make the Bradley-Michigan State game really fun, it allowed the Nevada-Florida game to be tolerable.  When you’re agnostic towards the 8 teams in your regional its easy to make friends.  Also, because of the lack of balance in bathroom equality, you end up spending a fair amount of quality discussion time with strangers.  At some point in the recent past it became standard operating procedure in the design and construction of entertainment venues to have two women’s restrooms for every men’s restroom.  Typical of intersectionality, this line of thinking isn’t interested in equality, it is interested in revenge and reparations.   So not only are the women’s restroom superior in number – and I assume odor – they are larger.  The natural result is long lines resembling the bread lines in the old Soviet Union.  But since AOC and nearly the entire field of Democrat presidential hopefuls believe soviet style central government planning is peachy keen, maybe it was good practice.  Regardless, the length of the lines do give you a chance to visit with the gentlemen positioned close to you in said lines.

For instance, the Michigan State guy behind me got in line with not one, but two 25 oz Miller Lites.  That’s a guy who doesn’t really want to waste any unused space in his bladder.  He also spent a fair amount of time explaining that Sparty fans really travel well but airfare was $1200 from Detroit to Des Moines last Sunday.  Not being a guy who regularly checks airfares, I took his word for it.

The Bradley fans however showed up in force.  Neither Michigan State guy or I were sure how far Peoria was from Des Moines.  Luckily, the two Bradley students in front of me did.  Turns out it’s somewhere between 4 and 4.5 hours depending on your appreciation for speed limits.  Bradley actually led at halftime.  And this was the game immediately after Minnesota beat Louisville.  So the Gopher fans were engaged in some serious Midwest Power Drinking.  I told the Bradley kids that if they held on to win the game, they’d have to fight the Gopher fans for beers at the bars downtown.

Bradley kids weren’t impressed. “Ah, dude, we’ll be fine.  They’re gonna need to keep up with us.”

To which I responded, “Whoa, whoa, whoa there private school.  Slow down son.  You don’t want to challenge the Gophers to a contest in beer consumption.  Yeah, yeah, yeah you guys are from Illinois but your fan base isn’t ready for this.  You guys don’t have a football team.  You haven’t been conditioning since August for this kind of event.”

Bradley kid laughs it off.  But I wasn’t done.  “Look at Michigan State guy here.  He’s holding 50 ounces of beer in a line for the bathroom.  You what that means?  He’s gonna finish one in line to free up a hand, then he’s gonna finish the other on his way back to his seat while he stops at the beer stand for another 25 ouncer.  And he’s just loosening up for later.  He hasn’t even really started yet.”

Bradley kids are laughing pretty hard but I think I made my point.

I think the total count on Nevada fans ended up at two.  Sure there were more than that sitting behind the bench but I only saw two in the beer lines.  Which is my metric.  So maybe Wolfpack fans don’t have the same appreciation for giant beers that I do.  But that’s weird.  Like the casting for the Stalkers in The Running Man.  Anyway, we’ll see who shows up Saturday.  I’m guessing the Gopher contingent is growing not only in number but also in their liquid exuberance.

One thing about Fandom

Somewhat recently there was a football game that, in these parts, always is a pretty big deal. Iowa State vs. Iowa. Not to mention that a few weeks ago Mom and I found ourselves on opposite sides again for the Steelers/Bears game. The internet, for all its awesome glory, has taught many of us that its okay to be a complete douchebag because we can hide behind handles and nicknames while typing really nasty things about other people. Twitter also seems to be an accelerant on this fire. Sports fans, Hollywood groupies and political consultants are among the worst when it comes to yelling instead of talking. So Mom and I have decided that douchbaggery is not something in which we want the girls to excel. It turns out that nobody is teaching kids how to disagree without resorting to personal attacks, disrespect and general, well, douchbaggery. So how Mom and I interact with each other and our friends and neighbors who have sports loyalties different than ours, is an opportunity to push back against the continuing acceptance of douchism.

And listen, rivalry games in college sports are among the greatest conflagrations of asshattery in these United States. Regardless if our game is held in Ames or Iowa City, fans of the visiting team show up in their colors. I’ve done this many times. In fact I’ve donned the Cardinal & Gold in Iowa City 10 times. I’ve been treated poorly each time. This is to be expected. You are showing up on the other guys’ turf. Several people asked me during the week leading up to this year’s game if we were bring the girls with us.

Um, no.

First off, we had a live band at our tailgate. I also brought a 10-pack of Miller Lite Tall Boys for myself. This is not an environment in which my Dad skills would have been operating at maximum efficiency. Second, it’s a rivalry game with public drunkenness, rampant f-bombing and widespread dumbassification. So taking the girls to this game is not an ideal environment for teaching the skills we want the girls to learn. A byproduct of this conversation was that we wanted the girls to learn how not to be the type of sports fans whom everyone detests. That in turn led to an interesting debate at our tailgate.

Let’s say you are an Iowa Hawkeye fan. On gamedays you proudly wear your colors. When the Hawks are in Ames to play the Cyclones you show up to the tailgate/game in your black and gold. This seems perfectly acceptable to me. Also seems acceptable to most of the folks at the tailgate. Your team is in the visitor’s stadium to play a game. But what if the Hawks aren’t playing in Ames? Let’s say they are playing in Madison against Wisconsin while the Cyclones are home in Ames against the Kansas State Wildcats. So what you say. Doesn’t matter where your beloved Hawks are playing, its gameday for you. You get up, throw on your favorite black and gold Hawkeye gear, and head to the nearest bar to watch the game with your friends right? No. You get on the road early and head to Madison on a road trip? No. Grab a bag of Ruffles and a six-pack and watch the game on your couch? No.

You drive to Ames and go to the Iowa State-Kansas State game while wearing your black and gold Hawkeye gear. You go to a tailgate with some Cyclone fans you know and then head in and watch the Cyclones and Wildcats. All while wearing your black and gold Hawkeye gear.

Does this make you a douchebag?

Yes. Yes it does. If you answered no, you are, in fact, a douchebag fan. Or you harbor douchebag sympathies. Or your own fan douchebaggery is still in the larval stage and while not fully developed as of today, its only a matter of time until you too are universally identified as a douchebag fan. Even if you behave admirably throughout the tailgate and game, maybe even cheer for the Cyclones, you my thoroughly clueless friend are a douchebag. Simply put, you are a douchebag of considerable magnitude if you wear the gear of your team to an in-state rival team’s stadium and your team is not playing. The excuse that its “gameday” for your team too is so unacceptably lame it is difficult to convey through the English language. I wish there was a word to express, in a literary sense, a throat punch. Because that’s what you’re asking for when you engage in this type of douchebaggery.

Okay, you say, grudgingly admitting that wearing rival team gear in this example is, in fact, asshattery. But let’s say you wear a Georgia Bulldog or Arizona State Sun Devil shirt to an Iowa Hawkeye/Michigan State Spartan game as I witnessed this past weekend. Does that make you a douchebag? Sure does.

You do not wear team gear to a stadium when said team is not playing in that stadium. This is a universal truth. It’s like the 11th commandment. Naturally, there are exceptions. They are well-defined and easy to remember.

You can wear a MLB hat of any team to any game of any sport other than baseball at nearly any time. Detroit Tigers hat to a college football game? Totally fine. This past weekend I wore my Pirates gear to the Iowa/Michigan State game. Douchebag move? Nope. Not only was it gear from a different sport, it was the team colors of the home team. Completely acceptable.

Same thing with NHL or NBA gear. Different sport usually means its okay. Unless you wear a LeBron jersey to anything except a Heat game.

What about wearing your favorite NFL team gear to a college football game. Same sport. Does this constitute douchebaggery? Only if your NFL team sports the same colors as the team the home team is playing or has the same colors as a rival of the team you are watching. Wearing Steelers gear to an Iowa State game is a douche move. I have tons of Steelers gear. But its black and gold. Same colors as the Hawkeyes. So even if its freezing cold in Ames, as it was last Thanksgiving weekend, and my warmest stuff is black and gold I can’t wear it. Why? Because I’m not a douchebag. Wearing Jets gear to the Hawkeye/Spartan game in Iowa City? Douche move. Why? Jets and Spartans are both green and white. See what I’m saying here?

There are some nuances of which everyone should be aware. If you wear your Reds hat to a Pitt Panthers game you’re still a douchebag even though it falls into the different sport rule. Why is this douchebaggery? Easy. You need to be aware of which teams, in every sport, the locals hate. In Pittsburgh, its never okay to wear Reds or Ravens gear. Ever. Doesn’t matter what game you are attending. It’s a douche move.

Anyway, I think I won the debate at the tailgate. The same woman who was arguing that she should be able to wear her Hawkeye gear to every Iowa State home game showed up to the Iowa State/Texas game last Thursday in a white shirt. That my friends is the color of surrender. Of course Iowa wasn’t playing on Thursday so it wasn’t technically gameday for the Hawkeyes. Still counting it as a win.

Regardless of all that however is the underlying responsibility of you, as a parent, to teach your kids how NOT to be a douchebag fan. And I’m just spitballin’ here but my unofficial completely unscientific survey tells me that many of you are not only failing, you are actively engaged in the propagation of fan douchebaggery. I’m blaming Harry Reid and John Boehner. Everybody else is…