Let’s Talk About…Basketball?

Okay I know this seems like a completely random subject and couldn’t possibly be important to talk about but I promise it will be worthwhile.

So as of today (April 1st – Happy April Fools Day!) at 8:49 PM tonight the second game in the Final Four of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament will begin. And why is this so important you ask?

 

Because The University of North Carolina will be playing against The University of Oregon.

 

And much to the dismay of all of my hall mates here at UVA I am of course rooting for UNC to win not only this game but the tournament. It’s fine they will just have to suffer through yet another night of me screaming at the TV and jumping around in our lounge over basketball.

I have been a fan of UNC for as long as I can remember and fortunately enough for me, I have gotten the chance to grow up watching how much a coach can love his players. So when pretty much anyone at this school asks me why I am such a fan of UNC’s basketball team when UVA has such a successful team as well, I tell them something like this (but probably a shorter version). “I’m not quite sure how you can’t see it, maybe you are blinded by school spirit, but Roy Williams is more a father figure to his boys than anything else. He makes sure that they have what they need for life after basketball and turns these boys into men. And I watch their team dynamics and all I see is a group of brothers supporting each other in every way. Players who have graduated come back constantly because they love this school, they love this team, and they love their coach. If that doesn’t tell you why you should always root for UNC then I don’t know what will.”

People at UVA have consistently told me how much they “hate UNC” or “can’t stand them”. And I have yet to ask why even though I am quite curious to hear their answer. I think I don’t ask because no matter what they say it won’t change my mind about this team. Yes I love the school I’m at and enjoy supporting their basketball team but it doesn’t even compare to how much I have grown to love UNC. To me they are two completely separate entities and I shouldn’t even talk about the two at the same time. And I think if the people here at UVA were more open to seeing what truly makes a team great besides talent and skill then they would understand why I love UNC so much.

This past February I went to the UNC vs. UVA basketball game during the regular season. It was quite an enlightening experience. At a school where I believed the students were taught respect, dignity, and honor, I saw something appalling. Sitting one row in front of me were three boys who I thankfully never got the chance to know. And throughout this two and a half hour game they never ceased shouting shrewd and disgusting remarks towards not only the UNC players (as we were seated right behind their bench) but their coach, Roy Williams, as well. It went on so long that in the middle of a fit of anger and annoyance I finally tapped one of them on the shoulder and asked him to stop screaming.

You should have seen his face.

He looked at me as if I was the dumbest person alive and then said to me, “Are you serious?” Of course I was serious! But I just let him keep going because obviously nothing was going to stop them. And after this game had ended a friend of mine told me there was a UVA student who wore a UNC jersey to the game and was sitting in the student section. She also told me that this poor kid was getting slack from just about everyone that could see his light blue colored shirt. You see I wasn’t brave enough to be him, I just wore my UNC t-shirt underneath my disguise of blue and orange. Are college sports so intense that we have to act like we don’t have any sense and discredit the opinions of anyone that doesn’t like UVA as much as UVA students do?

I promised you this post had a point and I am going to keep that promise

I may go to a school filled with over 20,000 UVA fans (except that one guy at the basketball game, bless him) but that doesn’t mean that I can’t keep the same opinions I had before coming here. One of those being that UNC will always be my favorite basketball team. This school has taught me so many wonderful things but to those of you in college and those of you soon starting, remember this: no school is perfect. I have met many people who didn’t embody the honor code that has been established at this school and that saddens me. But I can only worry about how I am living up to that honor and how I represent this school to others. Those boys disappointed (and angered) me in so many ways and this was over something that hardly mattered. I can’t imagine how they would act over something truly important.

I guess what I am trying to say is that no school is going to be everything that you wanted it to be. But there will always be a school where you can find your place to thrive. And when you find that place, never let go of your values. Let it change you for the better but don’t let it change the essence of who you are inside.

I love UNC basketball, and I love UVA, but I will never let one change the other. And tonight I will proudly sit with all of my friends who love UVA and scream at the top of my lungs for Justin Jackson to make every three-pointer he can throw.

 

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