I’m often asked if I’m a Dodgers fan or an Angels fan. I always smile and say “UCLA.” This upsets people. “No, that’s college. I mean, who do you like in the Major Leagues?” I shrug and say that I don’t really care that much. If asked about the NBA or NFL or MLB or World Cup soccer, there are teams that I might root for or those that I favor slightly. But I am only a true fan of UCLA. I have no connection to the Lakers or the Angels or Team USA other than where I live. How can you develop a passionate connection based on something so superficial and arbitrary? I just don’t get it.
I lived at UCLA for 4 years. During those years I waited in line for basketball seats, went to men’s volleyball games, sat next to Ed O’Bannon during a final, played intramural sports in Pauley Pavilion and on the soccer field, tutored UCLA athletes, watched basketball practices, read The Daily Bruin as my main source for news, used spiral notebooks and planners with the UCLA logo, and ran into Westwood after UCLA won their 11th national championship. And the key chain I use now is the very same one I bought on my first day at UCLA, the one I bought for my dorm key. All of that is what makes a connection. So when I’m rooting for UCLA, I can truly feel like it’s my team. A piece of me, of my spirit, is still at UCLA just as UCLA is still with me. And it’s that connection that fuels that passion that I have for all things UCLA.
This weekend UCLA will be playing in the baseball College World Series in Omaha. I’ve already been to a regional game and watched their other two regional games on my computer. Then last Friday I went to the super regional game at CSUF–a game and series they were not expected to win–and they won again. And I was on TV! So now they’re headed to Omaha and I may be, too. My brother and I might just do a crazy spur of the moment trip to see their first game on Saturday. Free lodging, cheap airfare. Why not?
I love sports. But for these past two weeks and these two weeks ahead, I’m not simply a fan of baseball. I’m a fan of UCLA. When I root for UCLA, I am rooting for a team that represents a special four years of my life and the people and places who have shaped who I am. I am a fan because this team is a part of me and it gives me a sense of pride, pride in how hard I worked to get into and graduate from this university. No matter where I live, I’ll always be a UCLA fan. Because to me, a fan is not defined by location; it’s about something much more personal and passionate.
On Saturday I’ll be passionately rooting for my team. For UCLA.