Significant Others and Team Allegiances

What do you do when your significant other has rooting interests differing from your own? Coming from relatively similar geographies, this issue is rarely broached in my own relationship. However, with the NCAA tournament showcasing so many teams, this issue has inevitably surfaced.

I’m from “ACC Country,” which means picking your one ACC team to root for regardless, hating either Duke or Carolina (for me, Duke), and talking smack about your conference’s superiority during basketball season, peaking in March. It also means once the tournament starts, rooting for all the ACC teams (except maybe Duke or UNC, depending on your preference), especially for someone like me, who gets to see their team in it about as often as Halley’s Comet.

My boyfriend, a Hoya alum, however, is a Big East fan. ACC fans and Big East fans don’t generally get along. Both tout their respective conferences’ strength of schedule, traditional matchups, powerhouses, and how many teams get invited to the Big Dance. Well the Big East got 8 bids to the ACC’s 4 this year, so needless to say, my argument this year hasn’t been particularly compelling.

Besides the ACC, I also tend to root for so-called “mid-major” schools hailing from smaller, lesser known conferences from Virginia and North Carolina. In past years that has included University of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University (aka VCU), George Mason, Old Dominion, and UNC-Wilmington.

When the bracket first came out for this year’s tournament, I was particularly excited about Davidson, a mid-major out of North Carolina. I knew they were undefeated in their conference and were on a 22-game win streak, but what had impressed me most about Davidson was their ability to play with mighty Carolina in a game at the start of the season. Ranked #1 at the time, UNC escaped with a narrow 4-point victory. That’s not to say the teams are even close to the teams they were at the start of the season, but this still left a lasting impression on me. When I saw that Davidson was a #10 seed and was facing #7 Gonzaga in the first round, I was certain that Davidson would be victorious and move on to the second round to face #2 Georgetown. As it happened, the first found was a lot closer with the Zags than I had anticipated, but the outcome turned out favorably, with a Davidson victory. I thought Georgetown would face a tough opponent in Davidson in the second round, but you pick your entire bracket before any of the games happen, so only time would tell.

Then came the big showdown between David and Goliath on Sunday afternoon. My boyfriend, whose weekend plans revolved around Georgetown’s playing schedule (and reasonably so), was glued to the action. Speaking on the phone before the game, I wished his team good luck, but chose not to convey the fact that I was rooting for Davidson. Watching the game in the comfort of my home I could freely root for Davidson without apology, but I felt like a fraud inside. When Davidson slipped by Georgetown in the waning minutes, I was excited for the Cinderella possibilities, but this pleasure was immediately soured by the anguish I knew my boyfriend was experiencing.

I have found that the best solution to this predicament is to be supportive, but to keep your own rooting interests silent. Unless it’s a team you fervently root for all the time, or the “other” team in a contest featuring a team you hate, it isn’t worth being over-the-top in your rooting interests. We’ll see how this approach works in the coming weeks. I have to root for some underdog, and none of the others particularly interest me right now. Though to be honest, the tournament is addictive every year, no matter what storylines surface.

In the meantime, gooo-ooo-ooo Davidson. 2 more days ’til the return of the Madness!

Picture source: CBS News website: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/03/23/ap/sportsline/main3960789.shtml

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