Sunday, March 23, 2008

March Madness and Sport Adultery

Growing up in Indiana, the month of March was always a special time. The land began to thaw from the previous winter, the snow melted and the green grass tops popped through. Club soccer practice kicked off on slushy fields and you go outside without a heavy jacket. But the month of March meant one thing in the Hoosier state: basketball. Whether it was the IU Hoosiers, Butler Bulldogs or Purdue Boilermakers; or the local high school team, every resident had their eyes glued on the basketball team of their choice. The story of the '07/'08 Indiana Basketball team was one of peaks and valleys. Ranked in the top 25 for most of the season it seemed the Hoosiers were back in the national spotlight like in the days of Branch McCracken and Robert Montgomery Knight. After one too many phone calls, coach Kelvin Sampson was fired and the team began a gradual downward spiral. We were one and done losing to Arkansas in the first round. A talented team with a top in-state recruit Eric Gordon played a tough season for nothing in my opinion. Regardless of the loss, I still found myself glued to the TV set pulling for the other teams I like to see do well like Butler and Louisville. Basketball, like football in Texas, is a part of our culture. It's the farmer's son who practicing his jump-shot long after the sun has set on a beat up rim and backboard nailed to the side of a barn. It's the packed gymnasium on a cold January night and all the streets and shops are empty. Call it just a stupid game. Call it what you will.

On Friday night I watched the Arkansas-IU game with an IU buddy I met down here. At the BW3's in Midtown, I met another IU Class of 2007 grad who works for the Rockets. It's always good to meet a fellow Hoosier- especially one that works in the sports biz.

A friend of mine, frustrated with my diehard sport loyalty, asked (borderline screamed) at me: "John, can't you cheer for just ONE Houston sports team! You live here after all!" In my usual smart ass way I told I cheered for the Dynamo, but they pay me so it's different. I told her that I'm a one-team kind of guy- like the way a loyal husband should be with just one woman- his wife. My team may be a little down, but I cannot commit a term I fabricated called "Sport Adultery." I refuse to bail on my teams I've pulled for my entire life just because I live in another part of the country. So here's to you, Houston Texas. I will not cheer for your indoor football and baseball teams nor your lousy NBA team just because I live here.

My job been brutal lately working a lot of long hours and with nothing much in return. The Dynamo hosted its first meaningful game this past week- a CONCACAF Champions Cup game against Guatemala's CSD Muncipal. Thank goodness this game was not our official MLS season Home Opener that we're pushing so hard. We had horrible ticket operations and logistical issues. On top of all this, the sales team as a whole is struggling to make quotas and goals. Despite our utmost efforts, management threatened to take away people's jobs last week. This rubbed me the wrong way of course and put a lot of things into perspective. I know for a fact there is something in Major League Soccer that I am meant to do and be successful at. I just don't know what that specifically is. I was willing to give ticket sales a try- just so I could get started.

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