Of sports and men

Back in 1989 I was in… a school. No need to date myself more than that. Anyway, one of my teachers was really into NCAA basketball so he asked us each to pick a team that would win it all. Still in my full on nerd shell I had no idea what teams were even involved with such a sport, so naturally I asked my dad. He suggested Michigan. Actually he suggested a few schools, but Michigan was the first. And they were the ones with the Wolverine mascot. That’s right, a team named for the coolest comic book character (listen, I can retcon that history if I want). So naturally I picked them.

And they won.

Crazy, right? What are the chances. Pretty slim to say the least. But after that, they became my team. I followed the Wolverines through the ups and downs of the Fab Five, the awkward years of Robert Traylor, some NIT appearances, and the revival under Beilein including a great run with Trey Burke and crew. And that doesn’t even cover my true love of football (yes, there was a brief time in my life when I rooted for Tom Brady).

But for my dad, that team was Villanova. Because, you know, he actually went there. Got a degree and everything. So maybe it meant a little more to him than my total lack of connection to Michigan. And so I always listened as he would update me with how they were doing during the season as if the Big East really mattered. He enjoyed it and who cared if they weren’t going to actually go anywhere.

And then Jay Wright came along.

Not only was he a local boy (grew up a town over and graduated from my high school), but he turned Villanova into a real power house. And then, specifically, 2016 happened.

Holy cow. Growing up in the suburbs of Philly, I didn’t get many opportunities to call my dad after big victories, but I loved getting to call him after that shot. And the next time I went home he proudly handed me a Nova championship t-shirt.

Which I’m wearing right now.

As I watch them play for the National Championship.

Against Michigan.

I’d like to call him after this game no matter what happens. He was actually a way better sport than me, although his temper could flare up during bad games. But I know that even if Michigan won, he’d be happy to talk about the game with me. Which is why I just want a good game. Something to enjoy while thinking about what I’d say to my dad if he was still around.

Go Michigan. Go Villanova.