Sunday, January 10, 2010

Turn out the Lights; the Fiesta's Over

I don't want to rehash TCU's loss to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl because there isn't that much to rehash. Neither team looked particularly interested in the game, and both played poorly. (Both had clearly been hoping for a different bowl opponent, but that's life with the BCS.) TCU played worse, and Boise was a deserving winner. C'est tout. Yeah, the game was suspenseful, but it was also sloppy. In fact, sloppy is probably the best word to describe it.

But the main thing I took away from the Fiesta Bowl is that bowl games are all about the experience and not so much about the game. (They're also about the anticipation prior to the game, which is great and immensely fun.) The game was almost incidental in comparison to everything else we did in Arizona; it was the only four hours of the trip that I didn't enjoy. Everything else was great. Sure, I would have preferred a win, but the pre-game tailgating was superb, and Arizona was so sunny and beautiful that at no point did I feel particularly upset about TCU's poor performance--not even right after the game as my lovely wife and I walked out of the excellent University of Phoenix Stadium.

There was a time when a TCU loss like the one we suffered in the Fiesta Bowl would have had me down for weeks--really down, as in barely able to function. And I always thought that if TCU did achieve the impossible dream of going undefeated and making a BCS bowl, I'd be so overcome with emotion that I'd cry before the game. The purple end zone, the bowl logo on the field, the huge stadium, the crowd--I had fantasized about it so many times over the course of so many years that I thought that the reality of it would be too much for me to overcome.

Well...I didn't cry before or after the game. I cheered; I watched. I commiserated with other TCU fans. I walked out disappointed but also looking forward to what the next day would bring. I wouldn't call a loss fun, but I got over it pretty quickly--in a sense, I didn't really have to "get over it" at all. And I was thankful that we had an excuse to head to the Valley of the Sun during a Boston winter. We might do it again next year regardless of where TCU plays a bowl game (unless we make another BCS bowl, of course).

I'm still a die-hard TCU fan, but I've grown up a bit. I don't attach my self-esteem to TCU football wins and losses anymore. And, as cliche as this might be (and is), I've gained a sense of perspective as to where sports in general and TCU football in particular should fit into my life. I used to suffer though TCU games and football seasons--I kind of did this year, despite our success. I couldn't stand the thought of even one loss. But I won't be doing that anymore. I've learned to have fun with football even when the results don't go our way. Maybe I'm becoming less of a fan, but I'm also becoming a more balanced person--and I don't think that's a bad thing at all.

I was more sad that the small-"f" fiesta--the whole Arizona trip--had to end than I was that we lost to Boise. In fact, the emotions weren't even comparable. It's nice to be home, but I could have hung out in the sun for a few more days. It's been a bit of a downer being back, although the hockey game at Fenway was great last night. In the final analysis of all this, at least the Horned Frogs gave us a reason to get to Arizona in the first place. For that, and for a great season, I thank them, even if I'll never watch them in quite the same way again.

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