Last Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the Big 12 Tournament Championship game in Kansas City where I went to support my alma mater, Iowa State. It was awesome.
We use the adjective ‘awesome’ too often, but personally, this particular event deserved to be classified under the ‘awesome’ column. It inspired awe and wonder unlike many other ordinary things.
And for the first time, I was in true awe of the Iowa State Cyclones and the fan participation.
I grew up an Iowa Hawkeye fan and started my collegiate career in Iowa City.
For a large portion of my young adulthood, I was an obnoxious, proud and boastful Iowa fan, and like any other loyal Iowa fan, I despised Iowa State. It was almost as if part of the duty of being an Iowa fan was to separate myself from all things Iowa State.
But seasons came and went, and I eventually transferred because Iowa City is a difficult place for a teenager to focus.
I moved to Ames, to the astonishment of my friends and family, to further my education and embrace a different experience.
Iowa State was a wonderful place to go to school, and I enjoyed my time there, in a way, more than I did at the University of Iowa. Maybe I was more mature. Maybe I had better friends. Maybe it was a place I felt I could participate. Regardless, I had a blast. However, I wasn’t quite sold on the athletics department, and I felt a majority of students weren’t either.
I never felt the Iowa State football games were as energetic as the Iowa games, and although, the basketball games were exciting, I was still in allegiance with Iowa.
But the championship game on Saturday whole-heartedly changed my mind. It was a work in progress, but I can now say that I’m a proud Iowa fan and a proud Iowa State fan. It’s possible — you can love both sides, you don’t have to choose.
The attendance by Iowa State fans was overwhelming. It was called ‘Hilton South’ by many, and that it was. It was sold out and filled with cardinal and gold from top to bottom.
I finally understood.
On the way home from the game, I wondered if separation from a group proves alliance to another and is that a harmful norm to our societal well-being.
Does it make us any better to be ‘sided’? What are the positives and negative to that ‘you’re either with us or against us’ way of thinking?
It seems it’s the same superiority complex and division that embodies many state-school fans is the same philosophy many take towards politics.
Competition is important, but in the end, we could all use a little empathy toward the other side.