Let me first say that I would be cheering for Louisville had this not even happened, but it did. Last weekend the Louisville Cardinals became America’s Teams by way of emotionally involving the independent viewer through a terrible, horrifying injury on the court. The admiration of a fan base, of the viewers, towards the young men and women who play college sports, put their bodies on the line, for a free education is rivaled by no other level of sport. These kids have more on the line than most people realize, including their ability to walk (see Eric LeGrand).
Now let’s talk about the other reasons I’m rooting for them:
1. They are not Michigan. I know I know, I said earlier last week that I was “rooting for a B1G Final Four.” And I was. But at no point in time was I rooting for Michigan to win a National Title. My B1G allegiance dies when Ohio State stops playing, especially for Michigan. Not one little, tiny, microscopic part of me wants Michigan to win this thing so the B1G can have a national title under its belt. Would it be different if it were another B1G team? Probably not, but that’s speculation at best.
2. They can beat Michigan. Obviously it would be easy to cheer for the team that beat us, in what I can only assume was the worst played first 30 minutes in Ohio State tournament history, the Wichita State Shockers. It would be even easier to cheer for them because they are the underdog. But the fact of the matter is Cinderella’s story frequently runs short, and rarely does she get that glass slipper. If Michigan happens to make the title game I want a team there that is capable of beating them, and capable of doing it under the brightest lights.
3. Their coach is not Jim Boeheim. Sure Rick Pitino isn’t the classiest guy ever when it comes to off the court activities, but Boeheim is one smug asshole. Under the microscope of his own university’s scandal, Boeheim was less than helpful with answering questions when asked about it, and appeared to classify himself above reproach when it came to his own assistant’s actions.
4. I wouldn’t cross Rick Pitino. It should be stated that I’d also really never want to piss off a guy like Rick Pitino, just seems like he’d have a hit squad ready. If you’re reading this, Rick, no hard feelings about mentioning your off the court issues, ok?
5. They ended up doing the right thing with the Kevin Ware shirts… sorta. This event has been batted around a lot. From a bad idea to a good idea to a “let’s just not sell them and not deal with it idea.” Apparently it was the players idea to have the shirts made, which the university and of course Adidas had no problem with. Public outcry over anyone making money off that injury caused them to be criticized, removed, put back up and removed again. Either way the players did it right, and Adidas eventually sorta did it right.
6. They are not Michigan. Not sure I can stress this one enough. They do not wear “Sun & Blue,” they do not look like highlighters, they don’t suck no matter the time of day, and they don’t brag about their pre WWII football national championships that only Yale and Princeton still care about.
Now, let’s just all hope for fun, highly competitive games with no leg bones to be seen.