I have a reputation among friends and family for never being right. My lovely wife, in particular, likes to take my guarantees and begin making plans for the opposite to occur. It’s like she’s never forgiven me for declining tickets to see a Yankees game on May 14, 1996. She even said “If Doc Gooden throws a no-hitter, you’re a dead man.” What were the freaking odds?
She’s been having fun the last few months reminding me that I often guaranteed her the New Kids on the Block would never get back together and tour. Now she’s eagerly counting down the days, no matter how often I say please don’t go girl.
Of course, when everyone is making fun of lil’ ol’ me, she never mentions all the times I’m right. Like Wednesday night, when we were watching the Red Sox-Rays game and I guaranteed the Rays would win once Mike Timlin came in to pitch for the Sox in the 14th inning. Of course, in her defense, it didn’t take a genius to figure that one out.
Anyway, you can imagine the fun she had today, when another one of my guarantees was proven wrong—and in uncommonly rapid fashion. Less than two days ago, I wrote you shouldn’t expect to see Marques Colston get his number retired before 2009. One guess as to who’s getting his number retired tomorrow night…though the press release from Hofstra doesn’t indicate if he’ll be in attendance.
Even before this news, my wife and I were planning to go to the game (it takes a lot to get her to leave the iPod and the New Kids at home, you know). I’d already viewed the home opener against Albany as an opportunity to begin reversing the damage I’d done over the previous 12 years, when I not-so-gradually morphed into the person I once railed against as an idealistic and cynical collegian.
No, I haven’t sold out to The Man, and my political beliefs haven’t changed. I’ve done something even worse: I became the dreaded Hofstra fan who doesn’t go to football games.
In my defense, this time of year is usually my busiest, and by the time I’m free, there’s only one or two home games left on the schedule. But still…the 21-year-old me never would have accepted being busy as an excuse for why I haven’t seen a game at Hofstra since this guy gashed the Flying Dutchmen in a 54-34 win in 2001.
The 21-year-old me was livid in 1994, when Hofstra had the type of out-of-nowhere success that should have galvanized the student body and the Island alike. Instead, the free tickets that the school gave out every Friday ended up littering the first floor of dorms and the Flying Dutchmen went 8-1-1 in near-anonymity. (Though I still wonder what would have happened if Hofstra stormed back from a 24-7 fourth quarter deficit to beat Towson in front of about 5,000 fans on the final Friday night of October. Then again, considering the average attendance at men’s basketball fell from 3,623 in 2006-07 to 2,740 last year, I’m guessing the boost would have been short-term)
I was even madder in 1995, when the Flying Dutchmen started out 10-0, flirted with the nation’s no. 1 ranking…and still had to scramble for attention on campus. I wasted untold column inches railing at students who would rather watch Nebraska and Ohio State in their dorm rooms rather than walk across campus to Hofstra Stadium and watch their very own national title contender.
So here I am, within easy driving distance of Hofstra since the fall of 1997, and I can count on two hands the number of games I’ve been to in the last 11 years. I’m not completely the guys I used to criticize: I don’t watch I-A football on Saturdays. And until the pinheaded college presidents who run I-A figure out a way to determine their national champ via a tournament, I’ll continue to spend most fall Saturdays channel surfing for awesomely awful movies.
Yet I can’t pinpoint why my interest in Hofstra football has lagged. Maybe it’s the sense that I’m hopelessly behind by the time I’m able to attend a game most seasons. And basketball has always been my favorite collegiate sport to watch. Is it because the dangling carrot—the possibility of participating in one of our nation’s truly collective experiences—in basketball is more exciting than the one in football?
Maybe. Worst yet, is it because I’m—gasp—a front-runner. Hofstra hasn’t made the playoffs since the last season in which I attended a game.
Or perhaps I’m the good-luck charm Hofstra needs to recapture its past glories. Yeah, that’s the ticket. I’m out of work but the Flying Dutchmen football team is back in business.
It’s time to stop being one of Them and start being the man I expected me to be at 21. The road to Chattanooga begins tomorrow. See you there. I’ll be the guy yelling about Jeff Yeakel.