A house divided.
Outside of its original political context, this saying has come to describe the divide experienced by sports fans of opposing teams that just so happen to reside together.
I’ve seen it plastered on T-shirts, flags and bumper stickers. Back home, it was always Indiana and Purdue; here, it’s Iowa and Iowa State, of course.
Perhaps I was naive to think that I’d avoided this phenomenon by attending school eight hours from home at an institution with Big 12 roots extending south rather than east. This past Sunday, that notion was proven correct.
As 68 NCAA men’s basketball teams learned their postseason fate, one after the other, the (at least, to me) unthinkable happened.
While I wasn’t watching the selection show, the barrage of text messages from my friends and family made the situation clear: my alma mater was pitted up against my hometown team in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“Who are you going to cheer for?” asked a handful of my old roommates; “Notre Dame or ISU, eh?” wondered my friend Jon, in true Minnesota style. My favorite, however, came from my dad and simply read, “Sorry.”
To give you an abridged backround of the situation, my dad attended Notre Dame back in the 70s, met my mom and proceeded to settle down in South Bend.
It’s the kind of town where you can hear a pin drop on most Saturday afternoons in September and October, as the entire town is either cheering in the stands at Notre Dame Stadium or glued to their TV set, watching the game.
I have a slew of ticket stubs pinned on my bulletin board from games against the likes of Michigan and Purdue, have proudly sported a number 10 Brady Quinn jersey and even had a magnetic ND firmly planted on my car’s bumper for the longest time.
The Fighting Irish were essentially all I knew for the first 18 years of my life, and after high school graduation a good handful of my friends became Domers.
Following a tough year of Cyclone football coached by a certain Auburn defector, things began looking up for Iowa State’s atheltic programs and I soon became a full-fledged fan, waiting at the gates of Jack Trice each Saturday to fight for front-row seats.
It seemed to work out nearly perfectly that I could cheer for both Notre Dame and Iowa State with an almost nonexistant conflict — in fact, during my four years of school I remember the teams meeting just once, in softball.
I suppose, as they say, however, all good things must come to an end; my college athletics fairy tale just so happens to come to a halt at 8:45 p.m. this Friday.
This single game has even my extended family split nearly down the middle: a good majority of my dad’s family graduated from ND, while the same can be said about my mom’s and Iowa State.
Where does that leave me? My answer is two-fold:
1. Google image search “Notre Dame Adidas Zubaz uniforms.” Proceed to shudder. See what I mean?
2. It’s undeniable that the four years I spent in Ames trump any sort of allegiance I have to my hometown town team. Sorry dad, but I’ll be sporting cardinal and gold tomorrow night.