This weekend I had the amazing fortune to be given an entire book of tickets to the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament. I’ve never been to all the rounds of the tournament before and I wondered if that much basketball would be overkill. Not a chance! Watching four games in one day on Friday was so much fun (especially since the Heels survived their opening round game), and then two more on Saturday were just right (except that the Heels lost).
Our seats were in the lower level, about 30 rows from the court, and the only bad thing about them was that they were in the Maryland section. An idea of how bad Maryland fans are – I almost pulled for Dook in their semifinal matchup this weekend. The last time I pulled for Dook was 1991, and I doubt I ever will again. But I came close.
Here are some reasons why: During their game, a fan in their section stood up to cheer for their team. An older man behind him yelled at him to sit down, even though the man’s view was not impeded. The younger guy cussed back at the old man. Other Terps around them cussed the young guy and told him to sit down. This happened several times during their opening game. I’m no nature expert but I began to wonder if turtles in the wild eat their young. There seems to be a Maryland fixation on not standing during games, because we heard a few more comments (though less vociferous) during the Carolina game when we would stand to cheer or to simply see over the rest of the crowd who had also stood in excitement. When the wine and cheese crowd from UNC is too into the game for you, there’s got to be a problem.
Then, when the Heels lost, the woman behind me sounded as though she were going to cry with joy, exclaiming, “I can’t believe they did it! It proves that anything is possible!” Over and over. And over.
Those who know me well know it takes more than a couple minutes or a “it’s just swell to be here” reminder to get over a Heels loss; give me 30 minutes or so and I’ll be fine.
Unfortunately, the Maryland fans don’t know me well. Just after the loss, as I am sitting quietly and replaying some of the game’s last plays and wishing the Heels weren’t out, the Maryland fan beside me asks if I would like to sell my ticket to the final on Sunday, and then I was offered a “Fear the Turtle” sign to hold, which I politely declined (if a glare can be polite).
All that aside, it’s great to be around so many ACC fans. Even when their teams are out, the fans stay for the whole weekend because ACC fans like basketball, not just their team. I even bonded with a Dook fan who had on a hilarious shrt from The Office. To get to see some of the top teams in the nation go at it for three days in a row has been a really great experience, not to mention the chance to be on the road with three other guys, away from the responsibilities of home, and just talking a about the Heels, basketball, and the Lord (yes, probably in that order) and laughing a lot - what a gift!