BY DAVIN WILSON
My girlfriend is a better sports fan than me.
It’s hard for me to say because I consider myself to be a good person and good people don’t abandon ship at the first sign of trouble, which I often find myself doing with the Virginia Tech Hokies football team.
When Tech opened the 2010 season against third-ranked Boise State, I told my roommate I didn’t think Tech had a snowballs chance in hell of winning the game.
He gave me a cock-eyed look, smirked and said, “And you call yourself a true fan.” His words, even though said in jest, cut right to the core of me. He was Baxter to my Ron Burgundy.
My girlfriend, however, would never doubt her Tennessee Volunteers the way I doubt my Hokies. Watching her reaction during the Virginia Tech-Tennessee football game this past fall was enough to let me know she was “Bout It” for her team.
I withheld my excitement as the Hokies raced out to a 14-point lead early in the first quarter in fears of being an obnoxious fan and rubbing her face in her misery. After all, isn’t that what love is? Kate Winslet may have let Leonardo DiCaprio freeze to death while she stayed warm on a raft, but she never rubbed DiCaprio’s impending demise in his face.
I looked over at her several times during the opening minutes to see if the fear was going to kick in. It never did. She remained chill as a cucumber even when it seemed like Tech was going to run away with the game. She didn’t get upset, yell at the TV or swear off her team forever.
I, on the other hand, did the exact opposite when the Hokies started tanking. I did everything a die-hard fan is not supposed to do. I threw plastic cups, plastic bowls, whatever I could get my hands on and swore off Tech for the rest of the season. In short, I acted like a five-year-old getting his haircut for the first time. It got so bad that by the end of the night, she was telling me not to give up on Tech, while secretly cheering her team’s triumphs.
I became an obnoxious fan after all, not allowing her to enjoy her team’s victory as much as she could have without my fear and loathing all up in her grill.
We’ve known for quite a while she is the more loyal fan. We had only been dating for seven months when Tech knocked off the eighth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes at the Horseshoe.
It was one of the greatest moments of my sports fandom. Equivalent to the pleasure of running Q-tips through your ears or the joy a parent feels upon realizing they’ll never have to change another crappy diaper after finally toilet-training their child.
A week later, and I’m back to my usual bad behavior watching Shane Carden and East Carolina harass Tech’s secondary like Anthony Weiner does his interns en route to a 28-21 victory over the Hokies. My girlfriend probably thought I was battier than a rabid Charles Manson watching my temper-tantrum.
Meanwhile, she took Tennessee’s 34-10 loss to fourth-ranked Oklahoma in perfect stride, finding the silver linings like Bradley Cooper’s character in, well, Silver Linings Playbook.
I will never understand why I’m so hard on my Hokies. They’ve been good to me. For the past two decades, I have had the privilege of watching them play like a bunch of goddamn rogues, freaks, bandits, speedsters, ball-hawks and shapeshifters on their way to seven conference championships and 24 consecutive bowl appearances. Most fans only dream of this type of success, but I have lived it.
It’s never enough, though. I’m like the spoiled children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, while my girlfriend plays the role of the ever-appreciative Charlie Bucket.
She has stuck with her Vols through six losing seasons, including four in a row and through the Lane Kiffin debacle — Tennessee’s decision to hire the biggest douchebag coach in college football.
I told you she is a better sports fan than me. But why is this so? Why can she always find the sunny cloudy in a rainstorm, while I’m too busy looking for a single raindrop on a beautiful 70-degree spring day?
Is it because she is a better person than me? Probably so. After all, she is less judgmental than me. She simply ignores people who tailgate or cut her off in traffic, while I call them all sorts of names and assume their bad driving habits make them crappy people.
Or maybe it’s because she dates me — a 34-year-old know-it-all, self-proclaimed polymath who still lives with his parents — and is the mother of a sometimes too smart for her own good 10-year-old and is more patient than me … simply closing her eyes, taking a deep breath and counting to three when her Vols start tanking.
Maybe it’s because her faith is stronger than mine. She sees God’s plan in every little misstep or piece of misery, while I question his existence because I can’t find my iPhone or get a stain on my brand-new shirt.
Is it because of the generation gap? Could be. She is a Generation X-er who has had to fight and claw for every opportunity, while I’m a spoiled Millennial that has pissed away more chances than Marcus Vick.
Or is it because she has more control over her emotions than me? She is slow to anger, while I blow my top at the first sign of any perceived disrespect, which has often led to me being confronted by some country dude much bigger than me that could crush me into little pieces or push me head-first into a glass door, which has actually happened.
We may never know why she is a more faithful sports fan than me. Neither one of us have the money to consult a doctor or conduct a proper study and even if we did, we are both grownups and know the money would be better spent on a parrot that sings Jimmy Buffett songs or a goat that fetches soup.
So, until Dr. Drew of Loveline, Celebrity Rehab and New York Minute fame — that’s right, I just dropped an obscure Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen reference — offers to do a pro-bono study, we’ll have to leave it at this …
My girlfriend is a better sports fan than me.