I come from a “basketball” school.
What does that mean?
Apparently that we’re supposed to be good at basketball.
We have 11 national titles. We have 31 conference titles. We have 45 seasons with over 20 wins. John Wooden (I don’t think I even need to say anything more other than John Wooden). “We,” if you haven’t figured it out, is UCLA.
As for myself, I personally haven’t witnessed a good basketball game in the eight years since I became a UCLA Bruin. And by “good” I mean they win.
I’ve sat through a lot of bad games. Two of the four years I was at UCLA as a student we didn’t even make the NCAA tournament. For a “basketball” school this is a big deal. In 2013, my senior year, I did the unthinkable and got my hopes up when UCLA surprisingly won the Pac-12 tournament after missing the tournament entirely the previous year. I learned quickly from that mistake as the team decided they were tired of winning and instilling hope in their fans, and lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament to 11th-seeded Minnesota.
But this year- this year we are supposed to be good.
We opened the regular season undefeated. We knocked off #1-ranked Kentucky on the road (although apparently now everyone has knocked Kentucky off this year). We held a no.2 ranking for a few weeks. This is the best I can remember us being since 2008 when we made it to the Final Four (one year before I became an official Bruin).
You can imagine how excited I was then to get tickets to the UCLA vs. USC game at USC this year. A small aside- I currently attend USC for graduate school (yes, yes, I’m in enemy territory, I’m a traitor, I am the enemy now- I’ve heard it all from both sides). But my loyalty for my Bruins remains intact.
This year has been a little rough to be a UCLA fan going to USC and working in the USC athletics department (yes, I’ve really crossed some lines in grad school). Luckily, football season is over now and I can just put that small hiccup behind me. After all, I come from a “basketball” school.
I’ll admit, I was maybe a little cocky when game day rolled around on January 25th. I may have said some things to my USC colleagues (all in good fun of course). I even wore bright blue into the office (what? it’s a nice color, brings out my eyes). This was our year.
Well, I don’t think I need to go into the gory details, but UCLA lost that game in dramatic fashion. Actually, it wasn’t very dramatic. They never really showed up to play. They got whooped by USC 84-76. USC is not a “basketball” school.
I, for my part, went back into the office the next morning quietly, with my head down.
Last night, was the highly anticipated rematch at Pauley Pavilion. This time UCLA soared. They killed USC by 32 points, 102-70! Four game losing streak against USC snapped! All five starters hit double-digit points for the night.
And before you ask- no.
I did not watch the game.
I fully intended to, until I realized the night before that it was on the Pac-12 network. The dreaded Pac-12 network. Call your cable providers now because odds are you don’t get the Pac-12 network. No one does (sorry Colorado). One of the most highly anticipated games of the season (at least within the Pac-12) and the Pac-12 took the broadcasting rights for themselves.
I’ll hand it to them- that’s savvy business sense for the Pac-12 to keep the TV rights for the game. But from a fan perspective it’s kind of terrible. It’s hard enough to find millennials who are actually willing to pay for cable these days (I am actually one of those unicorns), much less pay for the Pac-12 network (my mystique stops there).
So instead of watching the game, I worked on homework (I am in grad school after all), and saw the occasional ESPN update about the game.
Do I think UCLA won because I wasn’t watching? I won’t count out that possibility. Sports are nothing if not superstitious. Let’s just say for once I am OK with being a hostage to the television networks.
All’s well that ends well. I can go into the office with my head held high on Monday and finally have proper bragging rights (which I fully intend to do). No one needs to know I didn’t actually see the game.