Over the past five months, Friday Food for Thought has been bringing loyal readers (all thirteen of you) weekend debate topics and drink pairings to help pass the doldrums of major college sports. With the Tar Heels return to the gridiron tomorrow, it is time to sunset this weekly piece along with the summer. This seems an appropriate time for reflection and one final debate.
At its core, this series has been about discovering the nature of fandom. Sure, a lot of the articles contained whimsical topics that could be glossed over in the vacuum of a single week. From a broader view, however, this has been a mission of self-discovery that I hope readers have enjoyed undertaking.
The series began on March 30 following Carolina’s untimely exit from the NCAA tournament. Much of the early writing was dealing with the grief at the end of the season and trying to make sense of the team and the loss. Would a Cinderalla story bring joy to a grieving fan? Did 2018 bring the end of a chapter or the close of an era? How are the players viewed in retrospect? Can we move on?
Stepping back from a single season, weekly topics also delved into opinions on the game of college basketball generally as seen through a light blue lens. Has the one-and done rule helped build Carolina’s long term success? What builds excitement in an off-season? Can we ever be satisfied?
At some point, it became time to look forward. Does a checkered football history make the summer exciting? What date is circled on the calendar and will we be on the edge of our seats? What does long-term success require?
Challenging the status quo is integral to discovering the true nature of being a fan; that magical crossroads between affecting outcomes through superstition and attendance. My colleague, Al Hood, was kind enough to contribute to the debate by taking on two long standing traditions; the Spring Football Game and a potential Smith Center renovation. The series also sought to discover the true value of a win.
Finally, this series has taken a very broad look at Carolina sports in order to revel in the memories. Weekly postings have remembered the heroes, the villains, and our favorite games. Reminiscing turned to rearing when the next generation of fans was considered in the ultimate forward-looking piece.
Throughout this adventure, each topic stirred debate while debaters stirred drinks. From bourbon and beer to wine and vodka, the psychological and sociological development has been accompanied by a methodical destruction of the liver. At least the ride was fun.
This study in being a fan has been neither comprehensive nor scientific. It has not even been particularly well organized. But it has provided the opportunity for a glimmer of insight. Like skimming one page from each chapter of a book, a weekly reader could glean a sense of the theme.
The core questions remain relevant to us all. Do you prefer to look forward or back? Do you anticipate with hope or dread? Most importantly, does being a Carolina fan make you happy?
Speak up, mix it up, and drink up.