LOOKING AT THINGS A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY
The story that has been coming out of West Lafayette for awhile now about the young man who is battling cancer and is a huge Boilermaker fan should help us all keep our fandom in check. Like most, if not all of you, I consider myself as big an IU fan as there is. I don’t have a “second favorite” college team like some people claim to have. Truth be told, I personally can’t fathom any reason to do so, but again, that is just me.
With that having been said, there is only one college that I despise, and that is the University of Kentucky. I use the word despise instead of hate solely because most of us are taught at an early age not to hate. Loathe would maybe be a nicer way of saying how I feel about UK, but no matter which word I use, I think you get the gist of my disdain for all things UK.
Purdue I don’t hate. I don’t despise them. I don’t loathe them. I just dislike them. Maybe it’s because of where I live, which is in the southern most point of Indiana. So far south I am separated from the state of Kentucky by a 300 yard or so empty field, and the Ohio River. I can literally sit on my front porch and see Kentucky…unfortunately. As you can imagine there are a lot more UK fans in my area than there probably are in the northern part of Indiana, so there are probably more people up there that feel the exact opposite of the way I do about these particular two schools, and I understand that. Even when you factor in how I feel about both of those programs, when I hear, see, and read about the young man who is battling for his life and has been embraced by not only Purdue University, but also nationally, it helps me keep things in perspective.
I’ll admit it, I sometimes get so wrapped up in all things IU that it becomes more than just being a fan. It has in some rare cases effected my daily life. I’ve let a bad loss (not that there are good losses) linger on too long. I’ve not spoken to friends for way too long over something related to our favorite college teams. And yes, I’ve even broken things and have actually had physical confrontations because of my passion for Indiana University. Not that I’m proud of any of those things, but I’m just trying to be truthful and paint an accurate picture.
When the story about the young super fan started picking up steam and I first read about him and his story, I took a good hard look at myself. I realized that there is a bigger picture than just bragging rights over college teams. Not that we all don’t know that already, but it came at a good time for me in particular. With the basketball season fast approaching, and the excitement that surrounds it as an IU fan, I was completely indifferent to most other things, or teams, in college sports.
While watching the Hoosiers play football I would check the scores from other games around the country. Seeing Purdue was losing either made me feel a little better because IU was also, or it just made my day because IU was winning. A Purdue loss on the same day as an IU win is the recipe for a great day. And of course, as you can imagine, seeing the success UK is having on the football field this year hasn’t been fun for this Hoosier fan. I have never, nor will I ever, root for either of those teams. The only exception maybe being if they were to play each other. Then maybe, just maybe, I’d root for Purdue. But truth be told, it wouldn’t bother me if neither one ever won another game, in any sport…EVER! But as I sat and watched the Boilermakers not only beat Ohio State, but completely manhandle them, I caught myself smiling.
For no reason other than the fact that a team rallied behind a young man who loves all things Purdue and is in the midst of a battle that most of us can’t imagine, and hopefully don’t ever have to. Yes, I’m one of those people that believe we can sometimes gain strength from someone that in appearance has none of their own. But the strength this young man continues to show should be a lesson to us all. He believed that his beloved Boilermakers could beat the mighty Buckeyes. Despite the head scratching losses to start their season, he believed. Despite all of the heralded 5-Star recruits that make up the OSU roster in comparison to the 3-Star recruits on Purdue’s, he believed. Despite everything he was going through, he believed. When all was said and done, the Purdue Boilermaker team took him under their wing, embraced him, and fed off of his strength for one almost perfectly played game. They believed. Let this be a lesson to us all. We have a lot more inner strength than we know. Making someone else believe in themselves is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give. Hope is one thing, belief is something else.
Thank you Tyler Trent. Thank you for putting things into perspective for me. Thank you for making me believe. Your strength is an inspiration to more people than you know. I am a Hoosier, therefore I will never be a Purdue fan. But…I will always be a Tyler Trent fan!