Confessions of a Sun Devil hater

Last week I saw my first basketball game at Wells Fargo Arena. Needless to say it was a very difficult experience for me. Like my first trip to Tempe for an Arizona/Arizona State football game, this trip also ended with the Cats being dismantled by the Sun Devils. It was painful to say the least.

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My parents did not go to the UofA. My dad is a Cornell grad and my mom went to some school called Missouri Valley College. Although both parents are now huge Wildcat fans, they weren't raised with the Cats. I actually chose Arizona over NAU because of basketball.

I wasn't actually raised an ASU hater. On the otherhand, I was encouraged at a young age to dislike Oakland, primarily the Raiders. I still remember the day I sat next to my dad on the sofa to watch football. I was four and asked my dad who we were rooting for. Idolizing my dad as I did, I naturally wanted to root for whoever he did.

"Who is my favorite team?" I asked.

"Anyone except the Raiders," he said. "If you root for the Raiders I'll kick you out of the house."

He was kidding of course, but at the time I didn't know it. I thought he was serious. In fact, someone gave me a Raiders sweater for a gift a few years later and I refused to wear it. My mom tried to get me to wear it when that person came over for dinner and I burst into tears. After explaining my fears, my mom assured me that I could still live with them if I wore the sweater. I wouldn't put it on until I heard it from dad's mouth. I wore the sweater, but I didn't like it.

My dad was born and raised in Kansas City. He was trained to hate Oakland as I was later trained to hate ASU. As a die-hard Chiefs fan he hates the Raiders. Their old AFL rivalry is still a popular topic of conversation with him. Add to the fact that his beloved Kansas City A's moved to Oakland, and there you have my father's dislike for all things Oakland.

As he became a Wildcat fan he started to instill my hatred of Tempe Normal. It was my dad who taught me the term "Scum Devils". It was my dad who bought me "My two favorite teams are Arizona and whoever is playing ASU" shirt. He did a great job raising me.

I went to the UofA and soon became a part of the Tempe Butte-ification project. I lived at Cochise Hall and the residents had a tradition of going to Tempe and improving the ASU campus. We took on one project a year, the painting of the "A".

As a freshman and sophomore I risked incarceration, climbed a mountain in the middle of the night and painted the ASU "A" red and blue. It was my duty as a true Wildcat fan.

My girlfriend actually spent a few semesters at ASU, but I don't hold that against her, at least not often. She got her degree at Northern Iowa (same time as Curt Warner) and is a huge Cats fan. I tend to forget the ASU years, except when it benefits me. If she does something silly or makes a mistake I blame it on her time spent at ASU.

The big shame of the family is my younger brother. Following high school he fled to Mesa to play Junior College football. Following a mostly forgettable career he made the big announcement; he was going to enroll at ASU. He claimed he would be a Wildcat and that he'd never wear the mustard and rust, but he still wanted a diploma from Tempe Normal.

Somewhere the gods are smiling because due to some oversights he didn't have all his core classes and could not enroll. He got a good gig tending bar and has dragged his feet in finishing the necessary coursework. I keep hoping that he will wise up and go to the UofA or NAU or get incarcerated, anything to keep him from becoming a Scummy.

It looks doubtful. He doesn't like Tucson. Doesn't like the cold and has thus far avoided any indictments.

I get older and I keep telling myself that the dislike should diminish. Now that I'm an adult I keep waiting to have a more level head. I keep waiting, but it doesn't work. I still wonder why people want to go to ASU. I still think the colors are ugly, the mascot is silly and the campus is too spread out. I root against them except when it benefits the Cats.

Everytime I start to soften my stance on ASU I remeber the past. I think of the "PLO" chants to Steve Kerr. I think of the drunken fan who threatened to punch me for cheering for the Cats, WHEN I WAS 10! I think of the ASU player who grabbed his crotch and  flipped me off following a Sun Devil win at Arizona stadium. I think of these things and smile, glad that I'm a Cat.

I don't have kids, but when I do they too will be indoctrinated into the ways of the Cats. As a baby they will be clad in those adorable little Wildcat jumpsuits. They will have posters on the wall and Arizona balls to play with.

And on that fateful day when he or she climbs on my lap and asks, "who are we rooting for?"

"Arizona," I will simply say. "If you root for the Sun Devils I'll kick you out of the house."

Except I may very well mean it.



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