Be true to your school (s)

I've been far too fanatical for far too long to give the Gophers up cold turkey.

Recently, I returned from a six-day sojourn to Tucson, Ariz. (otherwise known as “Hell’s Doorway” – it was more than 100 degrees every day I was there.). I made the trek southwest not out of masochism, but for practical purposes: this fall, I start graduate school at the University of Arizona.

New students at Arizona are given plenty of information about opportunities to get involved on campus, the distinct cultural opportunities the southwest and the U of A campus offer, along with many other enticements for the well-rounded student. Me, I had only two questions: Where’s the football stadium? How do I get tickets?

My questions, though, have brought to the front of my mind an interesting dilemma. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” said Abraham Lincoln in 1858. I’ve always interpreted this as a direct command to sports fans everywhere: you get one team for each sport. When picking a collegiate team, I have also abided by the “be true to your school” philosophy, which is why I have felt justified in suggesting to certain Wisconsin natives they should be pulled over carpet tacks and dipped in rubbing alcohol for remaining Bucky fans despite attending the University.

Now, though, I have finished my time in Minneapolis, and come late August I will officially be the newest Arizona Wildcat. So were I to follow my own principles, I should right now be working to clear the “M” from my wardrobe and wall hangings, throwing out maroon and gold in favor of cardinal red, navy blue, and the stylized Arizona “A.”

Yeah, right. Fat chance.

I’ve been far too fanatical for far too long to give the Gophers up cold turkey. I did not spend twelve years of fall Saturdays and winter Wednesdays listening to Ray Christensen on WCCO, followed by four years of watching the games in person, to give up Gopher sports now. I am officially revising my collegiate sports philosophy: “Be true to your school, unless you have two schools, in which case you can be true to both as long as they don’t really inhabit the same sports universe.”

Convoluted, but I’m willing to split hairs here. Arizona and Minnesota do not travel in the same circles; the teams hardly ever play each other in any sport, much less in the football, basketball, hockey triumvirate I hold so dear. Supporting both teams won’t compromise my principles: success from one won’t cause failure for the other.

I wouldn’t have been able to rationalize this had I attended, say, Michigan. There’s no room in one sporting life for Minnesota and Michigan; either you hate the one and love the other, or vice versa. There is no covering your bases; as a sports fan, you’re stuck with your team, your team is stuck with you, and that’s the end of it.

This is why I’m sticking with Minnesota. They have been with me a long time; longer, indeed, than all but four or five other relationships. The specter of a possible Minnesota vs. Arizona matchup – say, in the Rose Bowl – is a remote one: Arizona has never played in the game, and Minnesota’s last appearance was in 1962. Should it happen in the next four years, though, I will officially turn into “that guy”: the Arizona student cheering for the wrong team.

Does this make me a bad person? I do not think so. Rather, I think Lincoln – and the red-and-white-bedecked pukes I see in the Metrodome student- section at every Gophers-Badger game – would understand my logic.

Jon Marthaler welcomes comments at [email protected]