When you're laying awake at night, thoughts swirling around in the noggin, what are your hands doing? Are they tented and pulsating in front of your body? Are they straight down at your sides like you were deceased and ready to be made up like some new age Barbie doll? Are they in the other room with your pogs? My hands are usually pretending to shoot hoops into my ceiling, and with my infantile skills with a basketball the imaginary shots are missing and hitting my imaginary gym teacher in the face. Another weeks detention? Yes sir, I'll learn how to play hoop ball some day.
When you're a kid in the middle of nowhere with no discernible skills, you learn how to sit alone in a room and make no noise because that's how you were taught to behave. Perhaps you click a pen every now and again to keep things lively, but besides that you sit quietly and look at stuff. Clock. Wall. Asshole teacher. Desk. Sweaty kid. Desk. Hands. Shirt. Sweaty kid again. Weird banner with smiling stars on it. Awful carpet. Desk. Desk. Hands again. Pen click. Repeat.
Nebraska is most definitely a state, no doubt about that. It has borders, and within those borders are cities. Some cities are small, one city is large. Some cities have college campuses, one city has a bunch. Some cities have normal folk, some cities have eclectic weirdos. A lot of the cities have sports ball year round.
When sports ball was introduced in Nebraska back in ought eighteen, the two biggest cities decided to square off against one another in an attempt to be crowned sport ball champions. I wasn't there for most of it, I'm a millennial and I think this article is going just fine. Almost everyone in the state rooted for the red team because they were forced to at birth. The others rooted for the blue team because they figured out they had the power of choice and utilized it to maximize entertainment value.
As the red team and blue team battled it out on the sport surface, a natural rivalry ensued. Sometimes the red team won and everyone gave the blue team fans a whole heck of a lot of trouble because of it. Sometimes the blue team won and they were completely satisfied. The red team and blue team have played eachother in hoopball every year since heavy metal and cocaine were very popular; the late 1970's. The blue team lost a lot back in those days, shaming the blue team fans and making them very sad. Both teams were pretty awful, not really knowing how hoopball worked, so it was a bit of a wash.
Then, we began to inch closer to the new millennium and the blue team started stealing some wins. This happened to coincide with the red team's football squadron beginning to swirl down the college football toilet, adding insult to the injured yet still gigantic ego of the red team's fans. Over the past 15 years the blue team absolutely dominated the red team, going 13-4 in that stretch. This angered the red team's fans, driving them to an unmitigated hatred of the blue team.
Occasionally, the blue team would intermingle with the red team during football season. It was difficult to point out the blue people as they adorned themselves in red garb and cheered on the football! The blue team's fans were without a football squadron of their own, so to satiate their blood lust they would attach themselves to the closest concussion factory and cheer hard! Eventually these so-called 'purple people' would be called out by the red team and lambasted for blurring the rivalry lines. They would yell, "You can't have it both ways! Go back to your city that's a 45 minute drive away!" When hoop season strolled around the chests of the blue people would stick out and purposely bump into the red fans. Tension mounted. Then, this happened:
An embarrassment to the highest degree. The red people hid inside of their homes and were afraid to scoop snow off their driveways, knowing their hoop squad had been bested. Eventually the red team got a brand new nest to hoop it up, but it would prove to be foolish as they have yet to beat the blues from within its hoopball belly.
Ray Charles said it best: "Nebraska has a bad basketball team but that's ok. Creighton has a better than bad basketball team, all the better. Find a balance, root for UNO! Skiddly beep bop ok that's out of character, my apologies."
I grew up in Nebraska so I'm an expert on all of this. You can trust me, I promise.
This year's hoopball matchup is a lot like the one's before it: there will be a winner and a loser. The red team has a cool guy coach who you would like to get a beer with and enjoy chatting about hoops while a terrible country song plays in the background at the bar. The blue team has a cool guy coach who you would like to get a beer with and enjoy chatting about hoops while a terrible pop song plays in the background at the bar. Both teams have some pretty talented players who live and breathe hoops. I even bet some of them stay awake at night pretending to shoot hoops into the ceiling.
When you're all alone in a classroom full of delinquents you eventually find yourself. You ponder the mysteries, you think deeply about life and how fragile your mind can make it. As you grow up, you learn that people aren't so bad and arguments about who has the bestest sports ball team in the land can be empty and hollow. Occasionally you'll find yourself doubting your inner monologue of whether what you're spending your time on is really worth it. When in this moment of doubt, just click your pen to liven the place up.