I couldn’t sit still. I kept moving around in my chair. My legs were shaking. Every couple of minutes I got up and paced. My heart rate had gone up—I could tell.
What was I so nervous about? Was it a situation at work? Was I trying to stare down a compulsion? Was it a panic attack?
No. It was a basketball game.
I don’t think I’ve ever written on this blog about the obsession that I once had about basketball, specifically college basketball. It wasn’t an OCD obsession. It didn’t adversely affect my life. It was more of a passion. I haven’t indulged in it for a long time, but Tuesday night, I did.
I had a passion for college basketball, especially ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) games, especially University of Virginia games.
It started when I was in high school. I remember watching my first NCAA championship game in 1979: Indiana State versus Michigan State, Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson. I was pulling for Indiana State. Even though Michigan State prevailed, I was hooked.
I soon discovered UVA basketball, when Ralph Sampson joined the team during the 1979-1980 season. Sampson, Jeff Lamp, Jeff Jones, Ricky Stokes, Lee Raker—those were among the names I followed every Saturday afternoon, watching the games on TV.
I knew who most of the starting players were on all eight teams in the ACC. I knew who all the coaches were. I read the sports pages and even kept a scrapbook of clippings about Virginia basketball.
I loved the constant action of basketball, the finesse, the beauty of the basketball swooshing through the net, the skills required.
When I watched the games, I was totally immersed. I called out to the players, encouraging them. I cheered, I yelled, I pounded on the floor.
My family put up with me.
When I was a student at UVA from 1981-83, I attended a game at University Hall every chance I got.
During my first year, a guy I had met at a party called me up one late afternoon to see if I’d like to watch that night’s game on TV with him. I politely declined, telling him I had a ticket to the game and would be there in person.
My suitemates were astounded that I would turn down a “date” to go to a basketball game. I was astounded that they thought I would give up the chance to be there.
No worries. The guy called later and said he’d scored a ticket, so we attended the game together.
As I got older, I got busier with adult responsibilities and didn’t keep up with the game.
Right now, I can’t name five players on the UVA team. I can’t even name all the teams in the ACC anymore.
But Tuesday night, I watched the game between Virginia and one of its archrivals, Virginia Tech.
Virginia is having a very good year—the best since the early 1980s, when I was such a fan. I finished up at work earlier than usual for a Tuesday night, so I came home and turned on the game.
It was a nail biter. Virginia Tech made Virginia work for the win, but my team won: 57-53.
And I was almost as excited as I was when I was a teenager. Go, ‘Hoos!
I think more games are in my near future.
And on a side note, the win was particularly sweet because I live with a Virginia Hokie. Yes, Larry is a Hokie. But I claim victory tonight.
What passion from your past do you still hold on to?