Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Getting "All" with EDSBS

The latest college football blogosphere roundtable (and good lord does that term require a witty acronym or abbreviation) is up at EDSBS and since I like talking about myself as much as anyone else, here's my response:

1. Education. List the region of the country you were born in, what universities you attended and at least one other you would have attended if your alma mater didnÂ’t exist.

I was born in Toronto and grew up in Macon, Georgia (after the age of nine). That might be the first time that those two cities have ever been mentioned in the same sentence. I went to Michigan for my B.A. in history and then got a J.D. at UVA. Given my preference for state schools and the fact that I've never lived west of the Mississippi before, if Michigan was wiped off the face of the map by invading barbarian hordes from Ohio, I probably would have liked to have attended Berkeley.

2. Sports Affiliations. List your top 10 favorite teams in all of sports indescendingg order. For instance, your alma materÂ’s football team may be number 1, but perhaps there is a professional team that squeezes in before you get to your alma materÂ’s lacrosse team.

This is a rough question for me because I feel tension between "which teams make me the most emotional now?" and "which teams have historically made me the most emotional?" (and in my mind, the way to rank these teams is to ask myself "how pissed do I get when they screw up?") For instance, I loved Michigan basketball as much as Michigan football when I was an undergraduate, but a decade of complete mismanagement has minimized my affection for the team greatly. There's a certain honor in rooting for a team that sucks, but how can I do that when the Michigan hoops team is rarely on TV and when they are, they're down 37-2 to Duke? So do I just take a snapshot of where I am right now as a fan or do I take into account that there was once a time when I slept outside in sub-zero windchill along with a thousand of my closest friends not as homage to the Battle of Stalingrad, but instead to get good seats to a Michigan-Duke basketball game? Anyway, enough kvelling:

1. Michigan football - the alpha and omega of my sports allegiances, although it has never been tested by a losing season, so I don't know if I would stick right by them and maintain my level of interest or if I would lose some interest as a result of the shame of Michigan losing its defining characteristic: consistency.

2. Atlanta Braves - even when they stank, this was my favorite team growing up. It's been hard to deal with their fall from grace this year. It's much easier to watch the Hawks wallow than the Braves because there are expectations for the Braves, not to mention the fact that the Braves are being vanquished by the mercenary, completely unrootable Mets. Still, the fact that their fall has been hard to stomach indicates to me that I care about them more than the other Atlanta teams.

3. Atlanta Hawks - being a season ticket holder certainly increased my interest. That said, I don't worry about this pick being one of recency when I remember throwing things around my room after the Hawks blew game six at home against the Celtics in the '88 playoffs. Tantrum = high ranking.

4. Michigan basketball - this one's getting too painful to discuss. The future looks great now that Tommy Amaker is desperate enough for point guard help that he's signed a guy who apparently wasn't good enough to play at The Citadel. Looks like I'll be crying in my Ray Jackson jersey for another several years.

5. Michigan hockey - when I think of positive sports memories from college, I think of Brendan Morrison's OT winner in the '96 NCAA Final in Cincinnati. I think of screaming so loud that I couldn't quite tell what I was yelling or what I should be yelling. I remember hugging my friend Andy harder than any friend should hug another friend. I remember nearly throwing my right shoulder out of its socket doing "The Victors." I remember thoroughly enjoying a meal at Taco Bell on the ride back to Ann Arbor. And thus, with that impossible feat, the UM icers get the last spot in the top five.

6. Atlanta Thrashers - I went to a lot of games when they were really, really bad. Other than tantrums, that might be the best sign of passion. When you can spend $25 on a ticket knowing that your team is starting Milan Hlicka between the pipes, you know you care. Or you're an idiot.

7. F.C. Barcelona - my saving grace during this sporting annus horribilis. I started rooting for them in '97 when they had and then lost Ronaldo as a result of Nike's machinations and have gotten more and more passionate as time has gone on. If you need an explanation, read Franklin Foer's chapter on the Blaugrana in How Soccer Explains the World : An Unlikely Theory of Globalization.

8. Atlanta Falcons - for some reason, the Falcons have never pushed my buttons in the same way that other Atlanta teams have. Part of the reason is that I retained much of my affection for the Steelers after living in Pittsburgh. Part of the reason is that SEC football is so much more compelling than the NFL in the South, so the atmosphere at Falcons games pales in comparison to an afternoon at Sanford or Jordan-Hare or Death Valley.

9. UVA basketball - my first sports love and there's always something special about your first love. I lived in Charlottesville when Ralph was there and when I was first becoming a sports fan. UVA basketball was a good preparation for a life of optimism and then disappointment in the world of sports.

10. Holland soccer - speaking of optimism and disappointment... (I would root for the US over the Dutch if the two ever met in an important match, but I spend more time following the Dutch and more energy rooting for them, mainly because the US just seems to be a big fish in a small pond.)

3. Movies. List the movie youÂ’ve watched the most, your favorite sports related movie, the movie you secretly love but donÂ’t like to admit it (possibly a chick flick or b film), and the movie you were (or still are) most looking forward to from this summerÂ’s season.

Most watched: Octopussy. It seemed to come on Showtime a lot when I was growing up and then it's progressed from there.

Favorite sports movie: Hoosiers. Seeing it in the theater on the day my high school boys and girls teams both won state titles didn't hurt.

Shame flick: Four Weddings and a Funeral. And yes, I did catch it yesterday on Oxygen. And no, I can't blame it on post-Peachtree Roadrace delirium.

4. Music. List your favorite band from middle school, high school, college and today. Also, as with the movies, include the song you secretly love but donÂ’t like to admit. If Nickleback is involved in any of these responses, please give a detailed explanation as to why, god, why.

Middle school: REM

High school: Dylan, followed by The Rolling Stones and Neil Young.

College: Dylan, followed by Nirvana.

Today: Dylan, followed by Johnny Cash.

Shamelove song: "Behind these Hazel Eyes" by Kelly Clarkson. I nervously glance around every time I'm at the gym and listening to this song on my I-pod for fear that I'm rocking it too loud and exposing myself to humiliation.

5. Books. Favorite book youÂ’ve finished, worst book youÂ’ve finished and the book you really should read but havenÂ’t gotten around to it.

Favorite: Truman by David McCullough.

Worst: Excluding books I was forced to read in school, probably They Only Look Dead by E.J. Dionne because it got my hopes up that the '94 elections were an aberration.

Book we should read, but havenÂ’t: Hitler and Stalin by Alan Bullock or The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes.

6. Travel. Favorite city youÂ’ve every been to and the one place you still must visit before you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Fave city: Barcelona.

City we need to go to: Berlin.

7. What do you love most about college football in 20 words or less?

January 1, 1998. Patience and faith are ultimately rewarded.

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