I walked among the walking dead Sunday in downtown Detroit.
I took my son Brandon to Little Caesars Arena where he cheered on his beloved Michigan State Spartans against Syracuse in the second round of the NCAA tournament. But the only Detroiters that walked out of that building with smiles on their faces were former Mayor Dave Bing and NBA great Derrick Coleman, who both played for the Orange.
I got to hear the grumbles among the walking dead on Woodward as we walked to the car.
“Why couldn’t they make their shots today?”
“Is the program falling apart?”
“Why were they so flat?”
The loss was so stunning that I even saw a couple Michigan fans who felt sympathy for their little Spartans brothers.
My silent son wore a bright green MSU sweatshirt and a Spartan beanie. He did not utter a word until I asked if he still had a good time despite the unexpected outcome. He assured me that he did and for me the great thing about the day is dad and son got to spend some fun time out of the house and away from mom.
I knew now was not the time to make jokes or crack a smile because he was struggling with the loss.
I never get to experience the feeling of remorse or jubilation following games. I do not root for or against team. I am a sports fan but I am not a fan of any team, which makes me an odd bean, created by decades of being a sports writer.
No cheering in the press box. It is stamped across the sports world and it is something we abide by. Our views cannot be clouded by fandom because if it were we could never give the public a clear view of what is wrong or right with a team.
I was not among the walking dead after the Spartans loss. I simply walked. I felt bad because I knew my son and Spartan wife wanted to see them advance to the Sweet 16. When I got home there were pillows thrown all around the family room. My wife Abs became so frustrated with MSU’s poor shooting that she spilled water all over the pillows before shutting the television off.
She did not see the end and asked if the game ended in a miracle Jordan Poole hail Mary shot for the Spartans as it did for Michigan against Houston. I told her it did not and I saw the last glimmer of hope leave her eyes.
Now that Michigan State is eliminated she won’t watch the rest of the tournament or the Big Ten network. Basketball no longer a sport for her.
Two days before the game I wore a Spartan beanie. I wore it because I think the hat looks cool and it keeps my bald head warm, not because I am a Spartan fan. I talked to a Spartan fan and before we parted she yelled “Go Green” and paused waiting for me to say “Go White.”
I told her I do not do that. She was disappointed as we parted ways.
I do not do chest bumps or high fives during games. You will never see me put grease paint on my face. I am a fan of sports but I am not a sports fan.
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