They Did It To Me Again

You’d think I would learn. I spent my childhood in east Tennessee in the shadow of Knoxville. We didn’t live there, but Knoxville was where we went when we wanted to go to the city. So the Volunteers were big. I watched a lot of Vol football over the years so I ought to know better now that I’m an adult. They sucked me in and got me a little excited. I actually felt a little March madness.

If you haven’t figured out what I’m talking about……… I mean the performance of the men’s basketball team in the NCAA tournament. They got upset in the second round in typical Tennessee fashion. Folks less cynical than I are still proud of them for doing as well as they have this season. Not me. I shouldn’t be disappointed though. I thought I had developed my cynicism enough to know better. But they were doing so well. They won the eastern half of the SEC, beat several hard opponents, and scored a 2 seed in the opening round of the tournament.

Mediocrity is tradition for athletic teams with Tennessee in their name. It’s most well developed and noticeable in football. I’ve personally been following the tradition since the Johnny Majors days. They have the most frustrating tradition of playing to their opponent. This weeks team is 0 for 10? No problem, we’ll just phone it in. No need for the A game, we’ll just do barely as much as we need in order to get by. I suppose this is an efficient philosophy, but it has a major flaw. Barely getting by has no room in it for a little bad luck, or for the opponent to bring it up a notch. If you have a three touchdown lead, then a fumble on the four yard line isn’t so bad. If you’re ahead by a field goal, then you have a problem. It leads to a lot of really embarrassing moments. Even the football team’s national championship in 1999 was so close it could have went the other way if the ball had been less slippery or the official had saw the play from a different angle in the game against Arkansas.

For years I thought it was only college teams, but that was because we didn’t have any professionals. Now the Titans are also afflicted with the mediocrity malady as well. Even the UT baseball team is infected. The only team that seems to have any immunity is the Lady Vols basketball team. Personally, I think their immunity is based solely on the strength of Pat Summit’s personality.

The most unforgivable thing of this whole situation…… I was actually paying attention to basketball.


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