I’m not very good at keeping up with sports schedules. I love the Tar Heels, but I didn’t watch any of their games in March.
I know. I’m awful.
And the truth is, even when I manage to turn a game on, watching it on television just isn’t much fun for me. The Carolina-Duke game was the first one I had seen in a while, and I watched it at a club in Charlotte with other members of the General Alumni Association. I wasn’t sure I’d even see the championship…until a friend, who’s a lot more committed in general, said she was going to watch it in Chapel Hill.
Huh, I thought. There’s an idea.
I was lucky enough that things worked out. My Tar Heels made it to the final game and my new job gave me Monday and Tuesday off. I had just enough money left over for gas and I had a friend in Chapel Hill who offered her futon. I would get to see the final game in the Dean Dome surrounded by my fellow Tar Heels.
It was everything I love about seeing a game live. If you saw it, you know how close the game was. In the past, there have been several games Carolina lost because their heart wasn’t in it. In the first half of this one, they had the opposite problem: they wanted it so badly that they over thought every move. What finally put them over the top was that they started to get mad.
People started to rush the court – and run out the door – before the final buzzer, when Justin Jackson dunked the ball and the lead was big enough that we knew we had won. We all screamed as we ran towards Franklin Street.
I’ve never been able to do that before. We didn’t win a championship when I was a student.
The street was packed. People were climbing trees and light poles at the intersection of Franklin and Columbia. Someone had set a couch on fire.
I drove downtown the next day and the celebration was still happening, just in a different way. Every parking lot and garage was full. People were shuffling through various t-shirts and the stores that didn’t sell them had some sort of special going on.
All in all, it was crazy fun and it felt like going home. A trip that was totally worth spending my two free days and my last dime on.