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A UNC Devotee Asks: Am I a Bad Fan?

Occasionally here at Blue vs. Blue we’ll feature guest posts from all varieties of friends, fans and basically anyone who wants to write for us. Today’s post, in preparation for Carolina’s matchup tonight against Florida State, is authored by Chapel Hill resident and writer Beverly Rudolph, who dares do admit that yeah, like a lot of us out there this year, she hasn’t watched all 40 minutes of every game.

I have been a rabid Tar Heel basketball fan for  33 years. I have lived through a lot of losses, but more wins, and have never, ever betrayed the team, trash-talked about a Carolina coach,  or abandoned hope (okay, maybe I gave up  in ‘02).  But like a lot of Carolina fans these days,  my guilty mantra during games is, “Dear God, please let this season be over.”

My guilt started to surface during the Georgia Tech game with about 7 minutes to go, when my husband (also a Tar Heel fanatic) turned the game off; I rolled over, said good night, and feel asleep. Neither of us needed to say anything; we knew what the other was thinking. They’re not going to win, and we can’t stand to witness it. 

Aside from the satisfaction of beating State (thank God),  each loss feature moments where the team shines, just to have a boneheaded move that turns the game around, and you worry they don’t have it in them to recover. I haven’t totally given up on them, but  I can’t stand to watch the games.  I am not at all a Roy Hater and do not engage in that banter, but do wonder why timeouts aren’t called at junctures when Coach Smith would have called one to stop the bleeding. (Such an easy fix! C’mon, Roy!) Can he not change the plan to fit the players?  Is the chemistry wrong and he just can’t fix it?

Speaking of the players,  I love them, but I get so angry when teams get uncontested layups on them because they don’t get back on defense.  Where is the toughness?  Why can’t they catch the ball?  When they drive to the basket, do they have a plan?  With any given 5 on the court, who is the go-to person who can score?.  I curse, I plead, I hope, the team responds then fades late, I feel despondent, curse more, and give up. And feel guilty. 

Have I become a bad Tar Heel fan?

I feel bad that I left the house before the Boston College game was over, knowing it wasn’t going to go their way.  Remorse comes to me when I realize during a conversation  with my Tar Heel-loving brother that we didn’t text once during the game (a first) and did not even think to mention the game in the conversation (another first).  Then I really feel guilty. Have we hand-wringers become bad fans of the Heels?  Are we like those much-despised band-wagoners that hang with a team only as long as they are winning? Have we become bloated with winning and too impatient with one poor season in a stretch that has included two national championships?

The answer is probably yes to some of those questions, but not to the first. From the blog-heavy blowhards (editor’s note: Bev, you better not be talking about us) to the quietly frustrated fans, we are not bad Tar Heel fans.  We are frustrated, angry, looking for solutions and answers, but not bad fans. A bad fan would inflict the worse insult ever:  not engaging in conversation about this season at all, ignoring this season now that it looks DOA, or moving on to the next thing.  To do so would be to say you don’t care that the Heels are struggling this season.  The mean blogger, the naysayers, the angry—we have one thing in common.  We do care.  We wish we didn’t, but we do. 

I think that makes us pretty good fans,  guilt and all.  Only the best fans hang on this season and look ahead to the next, hoping for better.