Last night was the USC vs. UCLA football game.
The 80th meeting in one of the most storied rivalries in college football.
And I fell asleep.
I went to USC.
I played at USC.
Well, I sat on the bench at USC.
The point is, USC football is one of the few things I get passionate about.
And I fell asleep.
It’s not that I don’t care anymore.
Or that I don’t care because we’re on probation this year.
And yes... I said “we”.
It may be 30 years since I wore the uniform, but I still say “we”.
So, yes... I still care.
I care enough to say “we”.
And I care enough to have watched every game this year.
And last week, during the game against Notre Dame, our other big rival...
I did _not_ fall asleep.
I stayed awake during every heart-pounding, frustrating moment.
At one point, I even screamed at the top of my lungs...
Scaring the crap out of my daughters...
And probably any neighbors not tuned into the game...
Which was likely most of them...
Since USC and Notre Dame were not exactly “in the hunt” this year.
In some years, everybody who cares about football knows when USC and Notre Dame are playing.
This year, not so much.
But that game still got my blood pumping.
And my daughters running for cover.
And the neighbors dialing 911.
After we lost to Notre Dame, I was numb.
I was depressed.
Maybe not clinically depressed...
Which would have been an improvement, actually...
Because then I would have had some medication at my disposal.
Instead, I had to resort to philosophy.
I tried telling myself “it’s only game”.
Key word... “tried”.
Problem is, I don’t believe that.
It goes much deeper than that.
Hard to describe.
When you care so much about something, it defies description.
My ex-wife used to ask, “Why do you love me?”.
Who can answer that question?
I love you because... I love you.
You might even come up with a list of things you like about the person you love, but how can you say “why” you love them?
Or why you stop loving them?
When my wife decided to end our marriage, I asked her, “Why do you want to get divorced?”.
“I’m as surprised as you.”
Not only is that a unique answer for ending a relationship...
It pretty much sums up what I’ve been saying.
We don’t know why we love somebody... or stop loving somebody.
It’s the same with sports.
Or anything else you’re passionate about.
Why do you love to...
You just do.
It’s the way it is.
It’s part of who you are.
For you, it’s part of the meaning of life.
Maybe you couldn’t care less about sports...
And by the way, did you notice I said “_couldn’t_ care less”?
Could _not_ care less.
When you don’t care about something, you could _not_ care less, right?
But a lot of people say... “I could care less”.
I _could_ care less.
When they really mean, I could _not_ care less.
And whenever I hear somebody say “I could care less”...
It bugs the crap out of me.
I don’t know.
It just does.
It’s just like anything else that I do or don’t care about.
Ask me why...
I don’t know.
All I do know is that when I’m emotionally involved in a game, and somebody says... “it’s just a game”...
Even if you couldn’t care less about sports, surely there’s something you’re passionate about...
(And stop calling me Shirley.)
Think of how you would feel if somebody told you that one of the most important things in your life wasn’t all that important...
“It’s just your kids.”
How would that make you feel?
It doesn’t matter if it’s sports, or whatever it is...
If it’s important to you... it’s important.
End of story.
So, last night, during the 80th meeting in one of the most storied rivalries in college football... even though it meant “nothing” as far as bowl games and national championships and any other measure of a season’s success... it meant something to me... and to the players and coaches... and to the people at the game... and the fans watching the game on TV... it still meant something... it wasn’t “just a game”.
So, then... why did I fall asleep?
I have no idea.