“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.” – Robert H. Schuller
Yeah, Robert Schuller has no idea what he’s talking about because he knows nothing of what it means to be a Purdue fan.
It usually helps me in my grieving process as a fan when I write my thoughts and feelings down after I exhibit the 5 hour rule.
No, not the 24 hour rule. At that point, I’m already at stage 4 (Depression) in the 5 stages of grief. I’m not at my optimal self at that juncture so this, right now this is where I’m my most vulnerable.
So, here goes.
Thursday sucked. Hard.
The roller coaster of emotion watching Purdue go from up 14 with 4 minutes remaining regulation and feeling as if we actually could make this run to Houston to down 2 when the clock read triple zero in double overtime was nothing I’ve ever experienced before….or so it would seem.
Nope, Thursday is what it’s like to be a Purdue fan. Every. Single. Year.
Heartbreak is now a way of life in West Lafayette. Us Boilermaker fans are almost conditioned to feel it now.
You see how football players are conditioned to play 4 quarters all out? We Purdue fans are trained and conditioned to expect the heart break and also the defeat being snatched from the jaws of victory.
Whether it be the Kyle Orton fumble, Hummel’s knee, the 2000 Outback Bowl or even more recently the collapse to Cincinnati, we can sense it coming.
When it starts getting too good, that’s when the normal, automated Purdue response is: “Just wait. It’ll happen.”
It’s like when some people tell you that a driving rain storm is coming when their knee starts to throb, our minds as Purdue fans start saying “This looks familiar” when the heartbreak is near.
How does this keep happening? Better yet, why does it keep happening?
I wish I had the answer. Don’t the sports gods have more entitled fans to pick on and send to the depths of the earth?
Apparently, that answer is a no.
So the simple reply is this: Why, as a sports fan, do you continue to subject yourself to this every single year?
Simple. It’s all about hope. (NO, NOT DANNY HOPE. GET THAT NONSENSE OUT OF HERE.)
Think about it, how amazing will it feel when or if Purdue finally gets over the top?
Whether that be in basketball or football or heck even baseball, there’s always the hope of somehow, someway, Purdue finally ending its so-called curse.
Those hopes and dreams seem simple to put down on paper but they’re so much more complex when you’re a Purdue fan.
You see, it’s easy to be a fan of a big school. Kentucky, Duke, UCLA, Alabama, they have it easy. They win National Championships on the regular.
But when you’re a fan, an alum of a school that has little to no history of winning championships, it’s excruciating.
Your fandom is challenged by sticking with the school that struggles to win and 99.9% of the time, you’re never rewarded.
At Purdue, all of this is true. Championships are few and far between.
I still celebrate our 2010 Women’s Golf National Championship even though I would hardly call myself a golf fan and the 1999 Women’s Basketball Team is still honored with signs around campus at Purdue.
Heck, even the 1932 Men’s Basketball National Championship, which was decided in a room by a bunch of media members, is celebrated.
We have four team National Championships at Purdue University. Not the 100+ they have at UCLA or the 16 claimed Football National Titles at Alabama. We have four. Total.
But we are darn proud of those four Titles and that’s truly what makes Purdue unique and special at its core.
When you call yourself a Boilermaker, you don’t change sides. You don’t leave.
Yes, you may graduate Purdue University and you may never get a chance to rage with Bruce at the Cactus again or take one more run through the engineering fountain after you leave West Lafayette.
But the loyalty, the pride that comes with calling yourself a Boilermaker stays for life.
We are trained to love our Boilermakers to the very end, whether that be in valiant victory or crushing defeat.
Yes, they always find a way to reel you back in when all hope seems lost. But that word, hope, is what defines us as Boilermakers.
We hope and dream that one day, our beloved Boilermakers will win the National Championship in men’s basketball or a huge game on a big stage. It’s the sport that defines us as Indiana natives and drives us during those horrific winter months.
And when that day occurs, whether it be in my lifetime or someone else’s lifetime, it will be all the more sweeter because it’s us.
National Championships are a glorious thing and they mean the world to those who are able to win them if you are a player or a fan.
But it means more to those who haven’t felt it before, who hope that one day they do get that feeling.
That’s why we keep coming back for more, year in and year out with our Boilermakers.
It’s the hope and dream that one day, everything comes together for that fairytale run to a National Basketball Championship.
And when that day comes, we won’t be saying “This looks familiar” in the waning moments of a tragic defeat.
We will all be saying, “I can’t wait for this to become familiar” when the victory finally comes.
Our hope for a National Championship or a big win on a big stage will shape our future as Boilermakers, not our hurts.
We are Ever Grateful, and Ever True. And we All Hail Our Own Purdue.