Rohit's Realm

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October 14, 2007

Boys Don't Cry

And weep the more, because I weep in vain. —Thomas Gray

For those who have had the displeasure of making my acquaintance in so-called real life, it should hardly be surprising to learn that I have never been one to cry; my emotional unavailability is surpassed perhaps only by my unabashed elitism and perennial depression. Even my parents, who arguably would have the best perspective, readily admit that I almost never cried as a child. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I even felt like crying, let alone actually let loose a few salty tears in name of sorrow or misfortune—that is, until last Saturday night.

Now, I know what you are all thinking: Rohit finally met the love of his life, only to experience brutal and merciless failure (as per usual), which understandably caused him to breakdown and weep inconsolably. OK, fine, probably no one who knows me even the slightest bit is likely thinking that I would cry over something that ridiculous—and rightly so! The day I cry over love is the day I (finally) put everyone out of the collective misery arising from my existence (incidentally, this is also consistent with my aforementioned romantic quest). No, dear readers, as you all might well guess, whereas no woman will likely ever bring me to tears, my beloved Bears did just that this past weekend, breaking my heart as I had prayed they would not, and yet, all along knew they would.

To clarify for those reeling in the wanton grotesqueness generated by an image of me, veritable cynic that I am, crying, let me just say that I did not actually cry. But I was pretty fucking close. Having relegated the Cal–Oregon State (OSU) game to be lost after the latter scored a field goal late in the fourth quarter, cementing a 10 point advantage, I was thrilled to see Cal's subsequent scoring drive, and overjoyed when, despite a botched onside kick, OSU went three-and-out. Their punt put Cal at their own 5 with no timeouts and hardly a minute and a half on the clock. Everyone (Cal fans, that is) around me was staring nervously at the screen; the tension was palatable. Riley, our second string quarterback in his first career start ever, completed successive passes, advancing us far down the field. When pass interference was called ten yards from the OSU goal line, the roar of the Cal crowd was deafening. A trip to overtime was guaranteed; a win was within our sights. Louisiana State (LSU) had lost earlier that day; we could be #1 for the first time in 56 years!

The last play happened all of a sudden. The ball was hiked. Riley looked down field as the pocket collapsed around him. The coverage was too good; no one was open. Then, in what seemed like slow motion, he charged forward, racing to the goal line. It was too late; the best rush defense in the nation converged on him before he had advanced even 2 yards. The clock continued to run. The coaches on the sidelines, powerless to stop it, watched in horror as Riley ran off the field with the ball. Cal fans across the country and around the world watched with similar horror as their hopes and dreams slowly ticked away to oblivion.

I remember staring at the screen, speechless, effectively paralyzed by what I had just witnessed. The tears welled up in my eyes as they had not since I was probably ten years old. I blinked them back, almost as surprised by their arrival as I was by what had just happened in Berkeley, some 2,000 miles away from where I was.

Did I really care that much as to cry about it? I could not believe it. It did not make any sense. I mean, it might have made sense had I been playing the game (what a spectacle that would be!), but as a mere spectator why should I care enough to weep? What association did I really have with that team in blue & gold on the field? That I went to the same school that they represent a few years back? Does that explain it?

To be honest, I don't know that I have a better answer now, having had a chance to process what happened, than I did then. Why do people care so much about sports? Why do we live and die with the successes and failures of a team we choose to call our own for no reason other than college affiliation or spatial proximity? Is it some primordial need for competition? A way of belonging? A way of living vicariously through the professional athletes all of us wanted to be as children but never got to be? Something else entirely? Where are the psycho-babbling social scientists when you them?

Incidentally, all this talk about sports and tears reminds me of that NCAA basketball game a couple years ago where then freshman Darius Washington Jr. missed free throws to lose the game and a tournament berth, collapsing to the floor in tears. Every time I watch video of that scene, I feel horrible—for him, for his team, for all of us. As much as I hate to admit it, perhaps that's the way it has to be; in a world of necessary meaninglessness and a lifetime of futility, sports might be one of the few outlets that we have that offers order, and if that means weeping over a bunch of large grown men failing to carry an oddly-shaped pigskin ball over an arbitrary line, so be it. Better that than the alternative: that we have nothing to weep for at all.


That was a tough loss. You can beat up on the Bruins next week though.

Darius Washington rebounded well from that game... the Tigers made the Final Four in the NIT, and he led them to a #1 seed in the tournament the next year, where they subsequently lost to UCLA in the elite 8. Now he's league, and undoubtedly impregnates women professionally.

College football is pretty unforgiving...

My reaction was anger. I think that's the first time I've been angry after a Cal football game. Not at Riley though - if we deserve to be #1 it shouldn't have to come down to the wire like that.

At least we'll have a shot at the Rose Bowl?

*staring (both times)

Jon, I had heard Washington rebounded, but didn't know that he's already in the NBA. Good for him. I hope Riley can recover from this: he played decently, considering he's a freshman and that was his first start. That said, we need Longshore back if we're going to do anything more this season.

Jack, I wasn't angry at Riley either. We didn't deserve to be #1. We played a shitty game and lost at home to an unranked team. OVER-RATED. And I hate myself for getting caught up in the hype.

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