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Montana State Bobcats

Montana State Bobcats

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A team from my home state just clinched a birth in the championship game.

First time since 1984.

It’s an amazing, unlikely tale. And one I won’t bore you with. Odds are, if you care, you already know those details...The stories within the stories…as they used to say in Journalism School.

Instead I would like to personalize it.

I didn’t attend Montana State University.

I did spend quite a few weekends there during my college years, but during that time I was only semi-aware of the happenings surrounding the football team, and only cared about them because they provided a good excuse for a road trip and a social event.

As more years went by in my young adult life my general sports fandom slowly evolved. I went from hating every team that wasn’t the Twins, Vikings, or Spurs, to having a slight and basic awareness of teams my friends and family liked, to morphing into a complete caretaker of all teams of anyone in my life that I love and respect.

The good news (and sometimes bad) is there isn’t a lot of people on that list. My family generally likes all the teams I do, mainly the Vikings. And the friends who I love and care a lot about aren’t too many these days. It really only puts an onus on me to pay attention to Gonzaga basketball, the Buffalo Bills, Oregon Ducks athletics, and Montana State Bobcats football.

A few things have carried over from my childhood that will never change though…I’ll always hate the Packers, Cowboys, White Sox, and Karl Malone…no matter who I know that may feel differently.

But for the most part I have allowed myself to root for some other teams for other reasons these days.

I have followed the Montana State Bobcats as much as I can the past few years.

One of my best friends still lives in the city of Bozeman and is a big fan. The Bobcats are important to him. That makes them important to me…hence evolved fandom.

Also, the core group of people that attended the university who I was fortunate enough to hang out with during that era are second to none when it comes to character. And basically always have been.

I’d love to go down the list and name them all, one by one, followed by a sentence or two featuring some of their redeeming qualities…but this isn’t an Oscar speech.

Just know that there are about 10-15 guys in this circle, some of which I have known since middle school or high school, and every time I think about any one of them I smile. All have grown into being great fathers, husbands, and/or productive members of society.

To know a lot of those guys were ‘back in town’ Saturday to watch the game live gave me chills. I wished I was there, but being about to watch what they were watching, while living my life vicariously through all of them for those 3 hours, was a high enough experience for me on its own.

I used to really love the San Antonio Spurs in the 90’s.

Not the teams of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobilli, and Kwahi Leonard…By the time those teams rolled into town and started winning championships my fire for the team was at about half mass.

I loved the teams of David Robinson, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, Vinny Del Negro, Dennis Rodman, Chuck Person, etc. Unfortunately the best those teams could do was make it to the Western Conference Finals.

Some of those guys did win a championship or two, but it was after a lockout in 1999, and during a time period in which I deemed NBA basketball as a whole to be a lesser quality product, therefore not registering as being as worthy.

So setting all that aside…I have only seen my favorite team make it to a championship once.

I was 9 years old.

The 1991 Minnesota Twins somehow beat the Atlanta Braves in 7 that year.

I can still name every starting player, what position they played, and where they batted in the line-up. Also their 3 top starters and several of their bullpen arms and bench players. It’s one of the few areas in my life where I am a walking, talking, human google machine.

The Vikings have made 5 NFC Championship Games in my lifetime but have lost all of them. The 1998 team was their best chance and, similar to the ’91 Twins, I can still name everybody that was on it.

But more importantly, think about what I just wrote…I was 9…

NINE!

I was Nine years old the last, and only, time one of my teams won a championship.

That’s why this Bobcats team is special.

I have no clue how they did it…[Anyone who watched every play of the Weber State game, (like I did) or the game against their in-state foe in Missoula, (like I did) and came away thinking ‘Boy the Bobcats are great. This team is good enough to make a run at it this year,’ would’ve been called crazy.]

But here they are.

First time since 1984.

That means most of those guys I spoke about earlier were 1 or 2 years old the last time this team made it this far.

I took some time off of “work” to write this today.

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I texted one of those guys and asked him what beer i should grab for this writing session and for thoughts on tonights Vikings game.

I texted, ‘I need something new tonight, maybe something that I’ve never had or heard of, figured you’re my guy. What kind of beer should I get?’

His response was perfect, ‘I gotta admit, the older i get, the more boring my beer preference is. I’ve been a Coors light man since the Obama administration.’

I liked the answer so much I actually went with his suggestion, and then reminisced some more via text after the purchase.

I’m not a philosopher, but i believe none of these moments (including that text exchange) are small or meaningless in anyway. If this person died tomorrow my brain would be flooded with ‘little’ moments like this that sum up his human beauty as a whole.

This game for Montana State that looms in a few weeks has already done so many things for so many people. It’s brought families and friends together.

It gets people talking again. Generations of fathers and sons, wives and daughters, are going to remember this season years from now.

And I don’t think that’s a small thing.

That’s why I root for the Bobcats.

When the Twins make it to the World Series, even if I’m 50-80 years of age, I’ll be there with my buddy at game 1, 2, 3, or 4, paying a billion dollars for the ticket if I have to, rooting for the TC, eating peanuts, and telling all sorts of bullshit stories between pitches.

And someday, when the Vikings do finally make it to their first super bowl appearance of my lifetime, I’ll be happily sitting next to my dad at some stadium in a warm weather climate, nervous, and cussing the whole time, hoping to cry happy tears when the clock hits 00:00.

But for now, I am having fun watching, from a distance, the Montana State Bobcats provide those simple but monumental pleasures to those I love and respect.

LET’S GO CATS!!!

One more time….

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