For the love of the game

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, November 11, 2017

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Sometimes, I wonder if being a sports fan is worth it.

I have loved Oklahoma Sooners football with all my heart for as long as I can remember. I grew up going to games with my aunt, wearing the T-shirts on Bedlam weekend, and defending the team to every Texan I know. When I was 18 and applying for colleges, OU was the first one I toured. I didn’t choose the school for its football team, but it definitely helped. As a student, I went to almost every single home game, plus a lot of the away ones.

Racey Burden

The thing about getting attached to a football team made up of talented, but relatively young, athletes is that you’ll get let down on a fairly regular basis (unless you’re Alabama. Boo Tide). See, I was only 9 when OU won their last national championship, and I don’t remember that game. I do, however, remember the 2008 Oklahoma vs. Florida showdown pretty well, and that’s the marker for games I wish I could erase from memory.

My freshman year at OU, 2011, we entered the season at No. 1 with the expectation to stay there. We did not. OU hadn’t lost a Big 12 game at home in a decade, but they did that year. I was in the stands. I cried walking back to the dorm, irrational as that may be. Then they lost to OSU for the first time in nine years in a Bedlam rout I also attended. They ended up in the Insight Bowl, and that was my introduction to sports as a college student.

OU has improved since then, of course. We won the 2013 Sugar Bowl against Alabama (my favorite game I’ve attended to this date), we actually made it to the playoffs in 2015, we won the Sugar Bowl again last year (we also finished 2014 unranked, but I like to pretend that didn’t happen).

This year we had that inexplicable loss to Iowa State, but what’s really made me question my sanity as a football fan are the three too close for comfort games I’ve been at – Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State this past weekend. All those games were down to the wire. All made my heart beat a little too fast and made me lose my voice from yelling too much. As the Sooners barely pull it out again and again, keeping at a firm No. 5 in the BCS polls, I wonder – if we lose to this team or that team, how heartbroken will I be, and how much did I expect the disappointment?

I know you Rangers and Cowboys fans understand the constant killer that is high expectations. I’m sure you also know that if a team really grabs your heart, you’re in it for life, up and downs, wins and losses, for better or for worse.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter.

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