I haven’t indulged in my goofiest guilty pleasure in a year or so. Yes, I like to play two video games. One is “Tiger Woods Golf” for whatever year. The other is the really sad one. It’s “NCAA Football 2010.”
What makes it sad is that for as long as I’ve had the game, I keep doing the same thing — creating dynasties for the Arkansas Razorbacks. I’ll build them up and win national title after national title until it gets to be really too easy, and then I’ll start over.
Worst part? I always create a player, a quarterback, who has incredible speed, a rifle arm, strength, agility and every quality a Heisman quarterback should have. His name? Well, no need in going too far into the weeds.
This juvenile exercise, on which I used to spend hours and hours, had less to do with getting better at the game or learning the intricacies of football playmaking than it did improving my psyche.
Crazy, isn’t it?
I used this fictitious video game to boost my morale by creating a fantasy world in which my favorite collegiate athletic squad kicked tail and took names every time it took the field.
I’m a T-shirt fan of the Hogs. I didn’t attend the university. No one in my immediate family did. But ever since I could tune a radio or catch a few minutes of KATV broadcasts, I’ve been a Razorbacks fan.
I’m not alone. The Razorbacks belong to the entire state. There are fans in every city and town. We live and die by great wins — any over LSU will do — and heartbreaking losses — I’ll get to that in a minute, but for now, more often than not the Texas of my youth.
In many ways, the success or failure of the Razorbacks program defines who we are. Think I’m exaggerating this? What was the topic of conversation at your workplace Monday? Good bet it wasn’t Mitt and Barack.
No, the outcome of a football game doesn’t directly affect most of us, but the indirect effects are real, and in some ways, the direct ones are as well. That … um … event that happened Saturday night cost UA a chance to host ESPN’s “Gameday” programming. The estimated lost revenue totaled $5 million for the university and immediate area.
OK, that event. The Razorbacks, no, the “Southeastern Conference Razorbacks” lost to the University of Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock. The X’s and O’s don’t really matter. What does matter is that the Hogs fell from No. 8 in the country to out of the top 25. National championship hopes? Go look down the toilet.
This season had been lining up to be a star-crossed miracle waiting in the wings. The Hogs could have been Doug Flutie’s pass, Don Larson’s perfect game, Michael Phelps before he got his endorsements. But it was not to be Saturday night. It should have been obvious that something was in the offing when tickets for the game were available, in a stadium that seats far fewer than 60,000.
The star quarterback missed the second half with an injury. The coaching staff lost its collective mind. The opponent didn’t get the memo that it should have taken its check and lost the game by the spread. None of that matters, because it’s really not about the game.
It’s about the blow to all Razorback fans’ psyche, their state pride, their belief that in at least one way, we’re not the poor, little, who-cares state.
As the Razorbacks go, so goes a good portion of the state’s giddyup. Win, it’s quick and spry. Lose, it’s ho-stinkin’-hum. It wasn’t the University of Arkansas that lost a game Saturday night. It was a couple million Arkansans.
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Rick Fahr is a longtime journalist in Arkansas, who most recently was editor and publisher of the Log Cabin Democrat in Conway. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.