The happiness and sadness of sports

Friday, March 25, 2016

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is something I saw play out firsthand in Oklahoma City last Friday night. The NCAA Tournament held a regional there last weekend, so some friends and I decided to go watch the evening games.

The first game, Texas A&M vs. Green Bay, was a snoozefest at best. Nothing prepared us for the game that followed, Texas vs. Northern Iowa.

I didn't have a dog in the fight. I have always disliked Texas University, but it's not like I know where Northern Iowa is located, either. However, there was a family of four Texas fans sitting in front of us who couldn't sit still for a single possession. After a made shot, the mother would stand up for a brief second and give a shrill-sounding "yes," before going right back to the literal edge of her seat. On every defensive possession, the son would yell, "D up right here." The father would clap so forcefully, you thought his hands would fall off. Oh, and the mother wore ear plugs to the game.

Being surrounded by this sea of burnt orange was kind of our fault, though, as in between games, we went to sit behind the Texas goal to get better seats, as we had originally been in the nose-bleed section. (We were sitting in seats that probably cost upwards of $300 for an Oklahoma City Thunder game.)

Texas got behind early and found itself fighting back the entire game. The longer Northern Iowa had the lead, the more vocal we became, along with the other non-partisan fans in the crowd who began cheering for Northern Iowa. The louder we cheered against Texas, in the Texas section, the dirtier the looks we got.

With 10 seconds left, Texas had the ball, down by two points. The Longhorns made a layup to tie the game with 2.7 seconds left. The Texas fans were pleased, to say the least, as that was the first time they had tied the game since midway through the second half. Some of them were giving us sarcastic smiles, as if four guys dressed in neutral colors could really care who won that game.

However, without calling a timeout, Northern Iowa inbounded the ball and took a shot from halfcourt that went in. For a brief second, Chesapeake Energy Arena went deafly silent. Then it erupted with cheers mixed in with a few words I can't say.

The high fives, laughter and "smiles" quickly went away from Texas supporters. I have been to a lot of basketball games, but never to one where a team wins at the buzzer. With everything going on in the world right now, it just goes to show what a great escape from reality sports can be.

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Ty Loftis is the sports editor for the Carroll County News. His email is CCNSports@cox-internet.com

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