Why I'm a Fan
(Photo Credit: Boiled Sports)
“I have a hard time giving up on a team that never gives up.”
My son and I headed out toward the concourse of Ross-Ade after Purdue left no doubt who was better versus Boston College. Once in the concourse we turned around and my brother and Dad were no longer behind us. We had waited until the crowd had cleared out a bit before leaving our seats…so it wasn’t the throngs of exiting fans that slowed them down. My Dad tends to mosey a bit, so I figured he might just be taking his time…so we returned in the direction of our seats.
When we got back into the viewing area, my Dad and older brother were listening to the band play the “Purdue Hymn.” I asked the pair if they got lost on the way out of the stadium…but my brother responded, “I like this song…just wanted to listen to it before heading out.”
Truth is, he wanted to linger near our seats in the stadium where Purdue earned its first victory of the season. After three straight losses, my brother and I (like many of you) were pretty weary. And like the team, we needed to see that win.
Unlike me, my brother didn’t graduate from the greatest school in the land, he attended some school in Indianapolis called “Butler.” But the reason he is so fond of this place is our Dad, who graduated in 1970. Whether he intended to or not, my Dad thoroughly brainwashed his children into loving Indiana’s Land Grant college. Three of his four kids graduated from Purdue. And the next generation is now doing the same thing to their kids, as my son, daughter and nephews love the old (Vegas) gold and black.
After the Mizzou game, my 12 year old didn’t want to talk to me, his uncle or his pal that was sitting with us, for close to an hour. He was smarting after the third close loss in the young season. His head was down…he wasn’t in tears, but I bet he was close. I came up to him and told him that we’re going to have some really fun days in this stadium in the next few years…and to keep his head up. His relatively-high expectations had set him up for this steep fall.
We might not have had expectations as high as some of our pals, but the BDowd family all thought this Purdue team was a 6-7 win team that would go bowling and win that game as well. We even convinced our extended family to change the dates of our vacation, because we were both pretty sure a ranked Purdue team would be playing a highly-ranked aOSU team next month in Ross-Ade.
Clearly, that’s not going to happen after Purdue’s slow start…but our Boilers and their coaches reminded us last Saturday of why we had lofty expectations coming into this season…this program is headed the right direction, in spite of the disappointing 1-3 record.
The losses have been close, heart-breaking and maddening at the same time. But in the the words of my brother, “I have a hard time giving up on a team that never gives up.”
Last week, my pals from this very website were in town. We all had a great time hanging out and getting to know each other a bit. Save J and I, the only connection this group of five bloggers has is their love for sports that the alma mater plays. We are all still fans. We don’t make money from this site, but we love writing and talking about our alma mater’s athletic ventures.
I can’t speak for them, but I know what I feel…and I know why I feel it.
I remember back in 1997, I was working at my first job and happened to be living on the East Coast. I hung up Purdue newspaper clippings in my cubicle along with photos of my (then) fiancé and family back in the Midwest. When Purdue played a big game, and Joe Tiller introduced himself to fans in God’s Country with thrilling wins and the basketball on grass offense, I made sure to tell my co-workers about it.
My buddies in the office graduated from Kansas, Michigan, aOSU and Wisconsin…all Midwest transplants in Massachusetts. All of us were under 30 years old, recent grads. None of us but one still burned to the middle when their Alma Mater lost a game. One of my co-workers told me, “In a year or two, you won’t care as much about Purdue.” I didn’t think he was right then. As it turns out, 21 years later, he was way off. Who knows? Maybe 30 years after graduation, I will not care as much.
Sometimes I wrestle with why Purdue games still matter this much to me. The truth is, I’ve invested time and emotion, and stoked the passion…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m still fond of my fair Alma Mater that sits close by the Wabash.
I chose Purdue for a bunch of reasons…but the biggest was it was just a good ‘fit.’ They had the major I wanted and I felt really comfortable on campus (see above). A year after I arrived on campus, my girlfriend chose the same college.
In my four years on campus, I learned about design methodology, a bit of product engineering, manufacturing processes, industrial history, un peu Francais, and whom I wanted to marry. I played hundreds of pick-up games of basketball in the co-rec, rode thousands of miles on my bike on and around campus, probably walked as many as well, and watched my schoolmates play some games.
While trading text messages during the Stanford v. Oregon game, one of my fellow BSers asked how Purdue could compete against Stanford for a recruit. I was in Palo Alto in July; it is flipping beautiful…and very few degrees are more respected than Stanford. In fact, the visit and some thoughts about the Cardinal prompted me to pick Stanford as my second favorite collegiate athletic program. It’s an incredible place…but it’s not my place.
But for me, in spite of being blessed enough to see a few places, Indiana is still home…and Purdue is a massive part of why my heart stays fond of home. My uncle and Dad have their names on small plaques on a door of the room in Cary Quad where they lived…a few doors down, my name and my roommate’s names are etched on similar, but newer (but ever-tarnishing) brass plaques.
I met some of my best friends, fell in love with my high school sweetheart, learned a few things, strengthened my faith in God and grew up a lot while on campus as a student in West Lafayette. There are other good schools and special places, but the fairest in all the land is still my own Purdue. Brohm’s football team and Painter’s basketball squad are my favorite ways to connect with my ol’ pal, Purdue.
I wish everyone was still as fond of their Alma Mater as I am mine. I’m still a fan because I don’t know how not to be one.
Happy 2018 Homecoming Weekend, Boilers.
Close by the Wabash
In famed Hoosier land
Stands old Purdue
Serene and Grand
Cherished in Memory
By all her sons and daughters true
Fair Alma Mater
All Hail Purdue
Fairest in all the land
Our own Purdue
Fairest in all the land
Our own Purdue