Full Disclosure: Phillips 66 is compensating me for this partnership, however, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.
If you use Timehop to look back on your life on social media, you’ll quickly realize that it can be a cruel reality check to see some of your past social posts. If anyone asks, I’m on a streak of 319 straight days of looking at my past. It has become part of my morning routine as much as thumbing through Instagram and Facebook.
For as long as I have been using Facebook, Timehop is able to go back and look back through most of my 20s when I was what I consider an angry sports fan. When it comes down to it, the truth is that I was bitter as the Kansas Jayhawks were in the middle of losing to Bucknell and Bradley in respective years, a time that I refer to as the “B” years.
But there is one post that sticks out the most to me that shows how sore I was as a fan in my 20s. It was when the Mizzou Tigers made their move to the SEC. It simply said…
“OK Missouri, you’ve had your fun, now just go away.”
To put this in context, Missouri was on the verge of moving to the SEC (Southeastern Conference) from the Big 12 and had just won the Big 12 Basketball Championship. I can’t explain why that exact post from 2012 sticks out to me out of the many ridiculous things that I have said as a college basketball fan. But it sits there, looming over my head because it isn’t who I want to be remembered as.
Little did many of us realize that halfway into the Kansas Jayhawks 14 year Big 12 Regular Season Title run our biggest rival (and basketball program most likely to dethrone us during these last 14 years) would leave. It upset many fans on both sides of State Line Road in Kansas City, but for those of us on the Kansas side, it made way for our next heated rivalry.
I recall a post just a couple years ago that said, “Great Game Kansas State, I’m glad to see that we now finally have a true rival.” I posted right after a KU win, but only by a close margin. No ill intentions were meant by the post, it was merely a congratulation on renewing a rivalry that both Kansas and Kansas State needed since the exit of Missouri.
That post shows just how far I have come as a fan in the last 8 years. Watching my boys grow up and take after me, has made me tone down the inner excitement, angry, bitter sports fan that once was. As a parent, I have made a point to make sure that our two boys don’t pick up any of the unsportsmanlike fandom I displayed in my early 20s. There have been several mornings when my oldest would wake up this past season and ask how the KU game went.
“We lost.” I’d say.
But I stopped him before he would be able to go any further. I knew the exact words he would say next because I lived being THAT sports fan. For many Kansas Jayhawks fans, at some point during this season we have uttered those exact words during a game out of frustration. Yet, we still held onto the hope that maybe just maybe we would secure our 15th regular season title.
That is the fan I want my kids to become. The fans who clings to our team (whoever it is) win or lose. I want them to win with class, congratulating the other team on a great game, and lose with class, not putting their opponent down. To be able to see the line between just some playful fun between friends who root for different teams, and putting down the other side to the point it hurts.
This past week, when we told our kids that we were going to the Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Championship, there was immediately the question of,
“Are we going to see KU play? Is (Udoka) Azubuike going to play?”
My heart sank knowing that this year, it wasn’t in the cards for us to see Kansas play in person at Sprint Center.
“No, we won’t get to see KU play, BUT we will get to see a great K-State team. And you (my oldest) even said, KU and K-State are from Kansas, so they are basically the same team right?”
These are the type of fans I want my kids to grow up being: fans of the game. Fans that can sit down and watch a good basketball game (baseball, softball, tennis match, hockey… whatever the sport is). We can have “our” team yet in the same breath we can appreciate the abilities of a team we don’t usually cheer for.
Much like the 2018 championship, the 2019 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship reminded us that even though we have our rivals, we can still Live to the Full while appreciating a great sports event.
— Brandon (@therookiedad) March 14, 2019