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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Helplessness

Though we may deign to admit it, we, as sports fans, are helpless. No curses or talismans we wield really have an effect on the outcome of the game. Sure, en masse we may have a little power, but the individual can do nothing.

Somehow, it can sometimes feel even less.

Today, as USF took on Houston in mid-day slot, I was en route to Pennsylvania where my wife has a race tomorrow. As I have before, I "watched" the game via score updates, furiously toggling back and forth between ESPN and Google (the latter was more updated, despite the former broadcasting the game). My emotions were on the whim of rudimentary graphics and text. I was verklempt after our high powered offense failed to score in the first quarter, uneasy as we led but remained within one score, and grew a little more at ease as time wore on. But the most maddening swing came late in the 4th:

At this point USF led 24-21. Houston would go on to score a touchdown and ultimately win 28-24, handing USF its first loss in over a year and ruining a perfect season.

I've said before and repeated tonight, there are few sports feelings as helpless as watching your team lose via score update. As jawdropping as it must have been for those watching live, there was no gradient, however slight, for me between the two downs above. The change was immediate from uneasy confidence to impending doom. And unlike in a space where commiserators were in abundance, I suffered this particular sling in near silence while checking into a hotel.

*          *          *

Present agony aside, all is not lost for the Bulls. While the undefeated season has been dashed, we're still in the driver's seat for most of that which has been within reach. Despite a few prospecting articles, we all knew the Playoff was never an option. Winning out the regular season - including a Black Friday victory over C. Florida - still puts us into the conference championship game, and a victory there still makes the Group of Five's bid to the New Year's Six bowls an option: While USF's ranking and stock will drop after this weekend, most of the closest candidates are conferencemates, meaning that a conference victory may still place us at the top of the heap. Much as it may feel like it, all hope is not lost, but if we can't get it together, the game in Orlando - and with it, all hopes listed above - will be.

Go Bulls.
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