Sports are a lot like relationships. Bengals fans and Reds fans can sympathize, but I will share my situation with the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team, since it is current and relevant to me.
As with all relationships, there are ups and downs, there are static time periods, and there are hardships each couple endures. It’s not every year a relationship experiences a defining moment—an engagement, marriage, children, or something as seemingly standard as a milestone anniversary. Most years in a relationship don’t experience these kinds of events, and instead can be considered pedestrian. See also: my current relationship with the Indiana Hoosiers.
I’ve been a fan of IU’s basketball team as far back as I can remember, starting sometime around 1992—the days of Damon Bailey, Calbert Cheaney, Alan Henderson, and Greg Graham. When I was around seven years old, I asked St. Nick for a Calbert Cheaney-signed sweatshirt to no avail. Around the same time, my older cousin was stunned by my vast knowledge of the entire roster as I fanatically (and, if I had to guess, verbosely) watched an IU game at her house*. In fifth grade, my brother attended Bob Knight Basketball Camp, where I got to meet the Indiana legend and got his autograph. (He looked as pissed off and unhappy to be in a picture with a 10-year-old tomboy as one would expect.) In 2002, I broken-heartedly watched my beloved Hoosiers fall to Maryland in the National Championship game. I beared witness to the Kelvin Sampson era, which destroyed Indiana’s charmed legacy and pristine program. And I’ve seen them claw their way back to national prominence; only to falter again as of this season. These are the milestones: the year we met and fell in love; when we’ve celebrated various anniversaries; and the year we got engaged. The years that stand out.
Tomorrow will be the second time I’ve gotten to see IU play at Assembly Hall in my twenty-eight years of life, as I am fortunate enough to have a ticket to sit court-side to watch my favorite team. Although there have been a lot of really good dates and some bright spots over the past few years, the relationship has largely been pretty static—a welcome change to a handful of really bad years, I will admit. I love Indiana University’s men’s basketball team as much (if not more) than I did in 1992. We’ve been through a lot in more than twenty years—including the hardships we are currently enduring— but I am positive that one day I will get my dream wedding.
*Seriously, what seven-year-old knows and can name an entire team that doesn’t have names printed on the back of their jerseys?