I am an IU fan. 1983 graduate, B.A., Political Science. But, I exist in a world of Purdue fans/graduates. Boilermaker wife, daughter, other relatives, friends, some of them very good friends. The intensity of the IU-Purdue rivalry, particularly in basketball is INTENSE. If you know, YOU KNOW! Despite that rivalry, I took zero pleasure in Purdue’s upset loss to Farleigh-Dickenson in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament.
March Madness, at it’s cruelest.
As a guy who loves sports, studies sports, writes about sports and has a fair amount of experience dealing with human behavior (37 years as a Judicial officer), I’d like to think that empathy ruled my reaction to the upset. I honestly felt the pain of loved ones.
I am reminded of a story from my sportswriter wheelhouse.
Notre Dame football ended their 1972 regular season on the short end of a 45-23 pasting at the hands of arch-rival, USC. Then, in that season’s Orange Bowl afew weeks later, ND was blown out again, this time 40-6 by Nebraska behind a superhuman performance by Johnny Rodgers. In the postgame locker room, the GREAT Ara Parseghian consoled and exhorted his shell-shocked Irish, “Out of these ashes, Notre Dame shall rise!” Well, you know the rest of the story. What ND fan doesn’t know about the exciting win over Alabama one year later in the 1973 Sugar Bowl? Tom Clements to Robin Weber, from the ND end zone good for 36 yards and a first down to ice a one-point victory!
After that game, ND was awarded the 1973 National Championship.
Out of the ashes indeed.
Losses like Purdue endured last night can serve as powerful motivators, just ask Virginia basketball 2018/2019. The Cavaliers turned the only other first round 16 v. 1 upset back in 2018 into a National Championship in 2019.
Next basketball season, I’ll be pulling for the Boilers like I have for years……except of course when they play IU (or the Irish).
My empathy, after all, does have its limits! ☘️