Evolution of a fan, part 2

March 16, 2009

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Evolution of a fan, part 2
Finding my way

This is the second installment in a three part series. Catch the final installment next Monday.

Like most dramatic changes, it began as a trickle. Walter Payton retired from the Bears after the 1987 season. My heart simply wasn’t with the Bears any more, and I was looking for a new team. The guy my sister was dating at the time (now my brother-in-law) was a Vikings fan, and I become a convert and have been a Viking fan ever since.

On November 7, 1991, my NBA idol came crashing down. Magic Johnson had HIV. I ceased becoming a Lakers fan and began following Magic’s friend Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons. Eventually, I left the Pistons and followed Alonzo Mourning’s career in Charlotte and Miami. There was something missing, however, and my interest in the NBA began a steep decline when Magic retired, and has continued to decline to the point of nearly zero interest.

In 1992, the great shakeup continued. I was a junior in high school and had to make a decision about which college to attend. The logical assumption was that I would attend the University of Iowa and cheer on my beloved Hawkeyes. My mind was changed when the university representatives visited my high school. I was not impressed by the Iowa representative, and was quite impressed with the Iowa State representative. I decided that I would attend the finest public university the state had to offer – Iowa State University. In fact, I did not bother applying to any other college.

I thus became a Cyclone. Under my fanhood, the men’s basketball team enjoyed a resurgence that culminated in a 1999-2000 team that advanced to the Elite Eight, led by Marcus Fizer and Jamaal Tinsley. The women’s team was also winning games. In fact, Iowa State swept the regular season and conference tournaments in mens and womens basketball in 1999-2000. The football team inexplicably began going to bowl games. Wrestler Cael Sanderson became a household name as he went 159-0 in college and later nabbed a gold medal. The men’s cross country team joined the party, winning the national championship in 1994.

The tidal wave of change continued into baseball. The Cubs were unable to retain reigning Cy Young award winner Greg Maddux following the 1992 season and he signed with the Atlanta Braves. I was disgusted with the Cubs, and changed teams. I did not, however, follow Maddux to the Braves. Instead, I chose a new path and became a charter fan of a brand new team, the Colorado Rockies, who would begin play in 1993. The inaugural season of 1993 had rough patches, but there was hope for the future. 1994 brought heartbreak, however. On August 12, the players began a strike that would wipe out the rest of the season. It was a very low point in my fanhood.

In 1995, things were much brighter. My Rockies, in only their third year of existence, finished with a record of 77-67 (some 1995 games were also lost due to the strike) and made the playoffs as a wild card. They lost in the first round to the Braves, but optimism was very high.

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