Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I had written the obligatory, the easy, the predictable. The Hodags had again eliminated CUT, this time at regionals, sending them home early for the first time in 17 years and winning regionals for only the third time. There was some bashing, the obligatory sodomy joke, and some more shit-talking about where the Hodag-CUT rivalry now stood.

But something happened. Call it getting softer as I age. Call it perspective.

We had a party here Saturday night to celebrate Mamabird and Kali qualifying for Natties. During the cookout the TV was turned on to Disc 2 and the main focus was the Colorado Wisconsin match-up from quarterfinals last year. Wisconsin lost, both times they hit the DVD's rewind button. I enjoyed the footage, and handled the banter and ribbing I received from my guests regarding the game whenever CU did some nasty shit and Wisconsin turned it. At the very end of the footage, after Joe Dombrow plows into Richter trying to stop the winning goal. Mamabird rushes to celebrate, and the camera zooms out to capture the big picture. There, a less detailed eye might miss him, is Ryan Carrington. The heart and voice of the Hodags for three years walks towards the camera and his teammates holding his head in his hand and tries to stop himself from losing it. I was there, I remember him just as he's shown. The dode benchwarmers on Mamabird present laughed and said something stupid. But the real players on Mamabird, the ones on the field when they were tied against Brown with the season on the line, they didn't say much. Richter and I shared a very intense moment very recently that spoke to that very instant. He remembered. "Shit, that kinda sucks, I love Carrington."

Up above, there are two pictures taken by Robin Davies of the Hodags just after winning. But having been there, I tell you on the other side of the field those exact same embraces were taking place by teammates who loved each other no less but were enveloped by different emotion. Someone had to go home. The Hodags screamed and hugged more for the relief of having survived than the elimination of their rivals.

This whole thing reminds me of Spartacus and Antoninus, how they hated each other and were enemies when they first met yet, by the end of the movie when the Romans force one to kill the other, Spartacus tearfully kills his friend to spare him the pain of crucifixion. It's a stretch, I know, but I was moved to see CUT leave the field. They are a good team deserving of a spot at nationals, and in this battle, the only thing one can be happy about is that it's not you shedding sorrow's tears.

CUT, great season. Wisconsin will represent and perhaps, if you let them, make you and the Central region proud.