So…much like the majority of the state of Wisconsin and UW alumni around the world and in Chicago, I woke up this morning a little hung-over, pretty tired, and very, very sad. For, as all we football-loving fans know, Bucky lost to Sparty last night in way that not nearly enough adjectives exist to describe.
And after all the proverbial football dust settled (and a few fights were had), more than a few friends asked/commented, “Margaret, you’ve got a lot going on. It’s a football game. This shouldn’t mean this much to you.”
But it does. And here’s why.
First, for me, anyway, college football is as much about the “college” part as it is about the football. What do I mean? I will forever be grateful to and thankful for UW-Madison: not just my time there (frankly, I couldn’t graduate fast enough to start my “real” life), but more so the opportunities this school afforded me.
To that end, I simply COULDN’T afford other academic options available to me (to Conservatives who spout off about “you make your own future,” it’s tough for any 17 year old to navigate the scholarship/aid system alone. Trust me.), and UW-Madison offered me what I maintain was as good of life and education as any other world-class academic institution.
In short, I’m thankful I grew up in America’s Dairyland, and even had the opportunity to attend such a diverse and dynamic university. So, yeah, I tend to take what happens to the school (via football, basketball, etc.) pretty personally. Oh, and don’t get me started on Governor Walker’s proposed budget cuts (like Wisconsin has anything of much value, aside from the University? But I digress)…
Furthermore, to those who know Big 10 football generally, but not the Sconnie story specifically, Wisconsin exists as the perennial Big 10’s also-ran. Sure, over the years, UW’s won the conference, taken a few Rose Bowls, and even had a Heisman winner or two in its ranks. No matter how many inter-conference wins or bowl game invites, however, Wisconsin has never, really, been considered the cream-of-the-Big 10 crop.
Sure, Wisco’s great, but not (in the collective sports-watching world, anyway) OSU/Michigan/PSU great. This game – f#ck, this season – offered Sconnie a real chance to “bring it” – to be undefeated, contend for the national title (yeah, I know the LSU story, but a girl can dream, can’t she?), and emerge as a REAL football powerhouse (in the national consciousness, anyway). School pride aside, could you imagine what, both financially and exposure-wise, this would have meant for UW-Madison? My Badger red heart hurts just thinking about it.
Finally, I guess I just, I don’t know, wanted something to elevate my home-state. Yes, there are the Packers, but I’m just not a native fan (much more a Jets/Rex Ryan girl – seriously, that fat bastard can do no wrong in my book), and I know the Brewers rocked this season, but, man, Wisco’s just so…Sconnie. Maybe it’s my coming to terms with my humble beginnings (honestly, I’m one of the few state school kids I meet anymore), but UW just represents…everything to me.
The hope of lifting yourself up by the proverbial boot-straps, the idea that where you’re born means less than who you become, and the idea that the world will be forever there for the taking for kids with chips on their shoulders, who live off the belief that they, too, can change things. I know…that’s a lot for a football game. But I really love this school.
So there we go. Yeah, I know, it’s just a game and the world will keep spinning. Look, believe me, I wish I didn’t take this loss so hard (it is, after all, ridiculous that so much be put on the shoulders of kids who, for the most part, grew up poor and are just trying to get by (after all, our nation’s poor defend us overseas every year and fight each other on playing fields for our amusement every Saturday/Sunday)), but, still, I’m pretty bummed out today. I suppose I come to terms by actively hoping last night was the day before Sconnie’s El Alamein and we’ll win from here on out.
And if not, there’s always March Madness. Go Big Red!
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