2011 Murray State University Men's Basketball

I live in a border town. Kansas City is half Kansas, half Missouri. And while that may all sound like flyover country to some of you, it’s actually the home of a beautifully renovated and revived downtown district, more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation, and a sports rivalry that makes the Hatfields and McCoys look like BFFs.

You might hear a bit of good-natured ribbing during football season, but rarely does the University of Missouri feel a real threat from the University of Kansas. Come basketball season, though, KU often gets its revenge and the claws come out on both sides. And no matter where you turn, everyone you meet is trash talking their team’s opponent. From Sunday morning’s sermon to the water cooler chatter to a late-night debate on Facebook, March Madness – and who’s going to win – is THE topic of conversation.

I’ve lived here my whole life. I know that this happens every year. I live with a rabid enthusiastic Mizzou fan. So I should know better than to engage in sports talk on Facebook.

On Monday morning (after MU won the Big 12 championship and KU, well, didn’t), I logged into Facebook and as I scrolled down my homepage, I noticed that a guy I went to high school with had posted a slam against Missouri fans. Another one of our classmates had commented and since I was feeling punchy (apparently), I did, too. The three of us bantered back and forth a bit, all in good fun, and briefly even discussed something else entirely.

Then a couple other guys jumped into the conversation [two guys from my high school who I’m not Facebook friends with, just in case you’re curious] and it got ugly.

I was so annoyed! And I thought to myself, “Pssshh. That, right there, is why I’m not friends with those guys. Ugh. Nothing like being sent back to high school. Eghhlllkl.” [“Eghhlllkl” is my way of spelling out the deep guttural sigh of teenage girls across the land, often witnessed in conjunction with massive eye rolling activity.]

Later that night, though, I just had to laugh at myself. First of all, I jumped in to defend MU when I don’t really care if they win or earn sports fan respect, much to my husband and daughter’s dismay. Second of all, my Facebook profile actually says, “Studied at University of Kansas.” Usually that line simply reminds me of my unfinished master’s degree, but this week it pointed out the absurdity of me participating in a MU vs. KS conversation.

The biggest reason I had to laugh, though, was out of self-awareness and a touch of embarrassment. As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted so badly to have a team to call my own. I’ve chased after others’ favorite teams, secretly hoping that every new team is the one I can cheer for without abandon or regret.

In middle school, I briefly called myself a [KU] Jayhawk because the boy I liked (*sigh* Also known as the Facebook friend who started this week’s Facebook debate in the first place. Yeah. Same guy.) rooted for Kansas. Later, I switched sides and shouted M-I-Z-Z-O-U with my friend Mindy, whose family, I’m pretty sure, bleeds black and gold. Then my cousins went to K-State, and I briefly flirted with the idea of wearing all purple, all the time. And now, out of apathy or ignorance (depending on who you ask, of course), I defer to Mark and align myself with MU on most days.

For such an opinionated person, I am one fair-weather sports fan! It’s weird, right? After all, I’m the same girl who wrote about being passionate – even embarrassingly so – just a few months ago.

Then again, I’m not sure any of this is weird at all. I like sports well enough, especially basketball (even though I was never very good at it myself), but I grew up in a small town and went to a small-ish college, neither of which had cheer-worthy teams while I was there. And, while it was not normal for me to chime in on a Facebook debate about sports, ’tis the season, especially around my part of the country.

I guess I’ll just chalk it all up to March Madness.

Do you have a team you call your own? Who do you think will go to the Final Four?

What should you watch next?


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