Alright, I’ll admit this week has been as difficult as one for me personally than in a very long time. Understand I typically don’t share much of my personal life in any forum, social media or otherwise, but I feel an obligation in this instance to explain my lack of enthusiasm or usual volume of content.
The truth is my heart hasn’t been in it lately. I was thrilled Rutgers didn’t actually play Michigan on Thursday. A big part of that was caring about everyone’s safety associated with the basketball program. The other was too much was going on in the world and my own world for the biggest game of the season to matter to me. And that made me even sadder.
My wife’s grandmother passed away at 93 and it was the end of an era in her family. We attended the wake and funeral last Sunday and Monday. My wife, who is pregnant, and two year old daughter, were in a minor car accident on Tuesday. Thankfully they are okay, including the baby to be. Some minor repercussions, but all in all we feel extremely fortunate through that situation. In addition, my actual job has been a lot to handle, as I oversee a lot of people working in midtown New York City. The stress of commuting, as well as trying to make sure they are all safe and healthy has been immense. Fortunately, most are now off and taken care of.
Other than making sure our house is stocked for my family and being as smart as possible in order to stay healthy, I’m starting to feel some relief. But the worry hasn’t gone away.
I’m sharing this because I feel a major responsibility to you, our loyal readers of On The Banks. And I feel I haven’t been of right mind to provide content the past few days to be able to offer a distraction from the world when you need it most. I promise as we go through this global pandemic together, I will do my best along with the other great writers of this site to provide as much great content as possible, Rutgers related or otherwise.
Dave White came through on Thursday with this great piece about Steve Pikiell’s lesson for us all. I’ve always believed in the journey of life being the most important. So much that my longest tenured friends have made fun of me for it over the years. So Dave made me feel better with his perspective. His highlight reel post of the season in lieu of Selection Sunday was great as well and something to bookmark for the off-season and revisit.
Rutgers sports have been a part of my life since I was 5 years old. I was at the RAC in 1989 for the Atlantic 10 Championship game, sitting behind the basket near the home bench as an 11 year old. I was at the first Big East football game ever between Rutgers and Boston College in 1992. I was at the Garden for the Billet shot to advance to the Big East Tournament semifinals in 1998 and actually hugged a UConn fan. I almost knocked someone off the upper deck celebrating the epic win over Louisville in 2006. Schiano’s last game of his first tenure at Yankee Stadium was fun before we knew it was his last game back then. I’ve been at plenty of painful losses too.
I’m sure so many of you have been to many of the same games and whether you were there or not doesn’t change the passion, nor diminish the experience of it. I can’t go to many games anymore with a full-time career in the city and a family that is more important than anything else. Watching on TV or even listening on the radio can actually draw out more personal emotion than actually being there in my opinion. You aren’t thriving on the emotion of the crowd, but just your own experience in that moment, which can be as powerful in its own right.
Rutgers sports has been a part of my life for so long, I’m just now processing what it feels like that it all has been taken away so abruptly. Rightly so based on the current crisis in the world. It has affected me greater than I realized. Even at its worst, rooting for Rutgers basically my whole life has been as much a part of who I am as anything. It was free therapy away from real problems, even with the epic losing.
Mental health is so important and even the strongest willed people in the world will be challenged through this global pandemic. The stress I’ve dealt with personally this past week has magnified the void of not having Rutgers sports to worry, celebrate and write about in a meaningful way. Sports are not bigger than real life issues. However, not having Rutgers sports for now has made it harder in dealing with those real life issues. And that’s not changing for likely a period of many months.
I am just starting to be able to think about this site in a creative way again. We are going to reflect on this special basketball season, cover news when it happens, and look back at some historical stuff related to Rutgers as well. I’m sure I’ll come up with some weird ideas that work and some that don’t.
As always, I’m open to any and all ideas on what you the reader is looking for or would appreciate covered. Let me know in the comment section, email or on Twitter.
Aside from Rutgers topics, we might get really creative and cover some pop culture stuff too because let’s be honest, how much can we write about when there are no sports for the foreseeable future? I’m a big music guy, as you probably know from my basketball previews, and love movies and TV shows as well. I’m going to put that to good use somehow during this period.
As crazy as this week has been for everyone and myself, I feel a great responsibility in having this platform, but also a great comfort in being a part of this Rutgers community. As social distancing becomes the new normal for now, there isn’t a better time to strengthen our special online connection as Rutgers fans. That’s my promise to you. I don’t know exactly how yet, but I’m confident I’ll figure it out along the way with the help of all of you that have made this site a special place to engage as Rutgers fans.
Most of us wear the “long suffering” badge with honor as Rutgers fans. I don’t believe there is a better fan base to deal with a global pandemic that abruptly ended the best basketball season for a program in three decades than Rutgers fans. If that’s the worst you can throw at us universe, let me recap some epic losses over the years.
(editor’s note: Please know I am trying to make you laugh in spite of the very serious situation we are in and in no way am I taking it lightly, on this site or in my own life.)
You obviously never watched the 2006 loss to West Virginia in football, or 2012 loss to Louisville. Or any close loss to Seton Hall in basketball ever, as well as the first four seasons in the Big Ten. Heck, the back to back seasons of 1 point losses to Penn State, along with the flukiest of game winning shot EVER resulting in the loss to Iowa at the RAC last year was enough to put longtime fans out of our misery for good.
At least we had so much to celebrate this season and so much to look forward to. Thank you, Steve Pikiell.
As the stranger (Sam Elliot) says in the Big Lebowski, “I’m rambling again.”
Take heart in the way the Rutgers athletics department in general has been on an upward trend for awhile now, as well as how much fight the basketball team showed in the final week of the season. Written off the weekend before by some, only to end as the national team of the week. Conquering big game and road contest demons in a span of five days was something special. Inspiring stuff.
Writing this has been therapeutic and I had no idea where this article would end up. If you are struggling with what’s happening in the world or if something bad has happened in your personal life, I hope this helped even a little. As always, thanks for reading, stay healthy and safe, and I look forward to continuing our great community together in the days ahead.