Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Jumping People

Lucky for all of you except Freeman, who seems to have found a perfect paczek of his own, I am moving on, ready to post about something other than Polish doughnuts.

(They really were amazing--as is my now imperial waistline.)

So tonight, as any of you who happened to go to college in North Carolina know, is a big night. The big night. UNC v. Duke. Sure, sure, this happens twice a year, but this is the first year in, well, years when UNC has been showing up to play. (For a virtual pep rally, read this at xtcian.)

I wondered a while ago whether this was a year when it would be safe to be a UNC fan again. By which I mean, how much crap would I get in the hallways from my colleagues? And how much disappointment would I face when I catch the Tarheels playing on TV?

My Patient Partner is a football fan, so I suppose I should forgive him when, say, in the middle of the first half of a UNC v. Whoever game, he would say, "Wow, it looks like UNC has it wrapped up." But instead of forgiving him, I would usually levitate across the living room, powered (Boba Fett-like) by my intense desire to roll back time and have his comment not exist.

No, no, NO, I would say. You cannot cannot say that because number one there is so much time left, and number two this is UNC which really means so much time for them to BLOW it.

He does not understand why so often I cannot even bear to watch UNC play, especially against Duke. It is just bad for my bloodpressure. I have to pace around the house and make quick little passes to look at the score and see whether it is safe for me to watch for a while.

Don't you want to watch the UNC game, he would ask. No, I would say calmly, or at least pretending to be calm. No, I just can't handle it.

I am not this way with Michigan basketball. In fact, courtesy of my dissertation director of years past, I got to watch Michigan play Illinois last night. Everyone here kept reminding me (as if it were their fault) that Michigan is really not having a great year, especially now that the point guard appears to have beaten up his girlfriend and so gotten suspended. My dissertation director said, as we sat down at the game, that the best case scenario would be that Illinois would be looking too far ahead and Michigan would only lose by 20.

But did you watch the game? The Wolverines actually managed to lead for a good bit of the game. Yes, lead.

I think it had less to do with the players than with the sheer energy exuded by the jumping yellow people, also known, I learned, as the Maize Rage, aka a vast field of yellow t-shirts (jumping) packed in behind the side of the court with the team benches. My director is on the athletic somethingorother committee, and so his season tickets are in the low section at about midcourt. In other words, we had a brilliant view of the jumping yellow people.

My favorite was the one wearing a blue bucket on his head and banging on a cowbell to lead cheers, but the guy running around carrying the sign reading NOT IN OUR HOUSE on one side and LOUD AND PROUD on the other was pretty good too. And there was a fair amount of maize 'n' blue face paint, and of course bi-color wigs. There was also someone in a bunny suit (but still wearing a yellow t-shirt) and next to Mr. Bunny was, I believe, a t-shirt-clad carrot.

(You can see the kid with the bucket on his head.)

Before this I was mostly familiar with the jumping blue people who dominate Coach K Court. They have a serious strategy of distracting free-throw shooters--and let me tell you, it usually works. Then recently I have seen jumping tie-dyed people cheering on the Demon Deacons and jumping red people somewhere else. But this was the first time I had seen jumping people in person.

They are fearsome, and they can yell.

And Michigan did not get wiped by Illinois, the top team in the country: in fact, they only lost by 6 points. Granted, there were moments where it was clear why Illinois is ranked as it is: they deserve that. But the boys from UMich put up a good fight.

Tonight UNC goes to Cameron Indoor Stadium, to face the jumping blue people. I still have not decided whether I will be able to watch.

1 comment:

Brumaire said...

I love your descriptions of the jumping people. The body art of fan(atic)s.

I must admit it has been a few years since I've watched a UNC game. I used to watch one or two a year (usually because I turned on the TV to procrastinate). I'm sorry to hear it's so painful these days. Actually, I think that the last time I watched a UNC game every time things went wrong I'd switch the channel or turn off the TV... and then come back 10 minutes later. And they would be doing ok, but then it would go bad again. And I decided that it was because I was watching, if I didn't watch, they'd do great...