Last year, I wrote a column about going to a football game and being lost because I forgot how to be a fan.
Tonight, I remembered.
I'm on my last vacation day in Missouri and I managed my schedule so that I stayed in town long enough to watch my nephew, Russell, play basketball in his school's holiday tournament.
Russell is a 6-0 sophomore forward, who starts for the Bears, and was born when I was just in second grade. Since I've been away to college and now working in Kentucky, I've missed a lot of his growing-up time and games.
Anyway, it wasn't hard for me to start cheering for Russell and gasping in suspense as his first shot of the night tip-toed around and out of the basket. It was easy to scream like a mad woman when his first shot went in for an and-one (he made it).
From there, I evolved to yell at the referees (they were letting No. 20 from the other team get too feisty). Then I started yelling for Russell to start blocking out, and started yelling for his team to "get your arms up, get big and play good defense."
My sister (who is 18 years older than I) was ready to have a fit at my vocalness. The gym was relatively quiet, therefore, everything I said at a mild volume came out much louder than it was. My sister is also the junior high principal and was the working administrator of the game.
I told her if she had a problem with my cheering, she could go to the other side of the gym. Should she still hear me over there, then she could rail on me.
Part of me wanted to keep stats for the whole game, but then that would take the fun out of it, and I would be working on my vacation. So I compromised and just kept stats for Russell.
He finished with four fouls, five points, five rebounds, and three deflections.
After a close game, the Bears won, despite being short two starters who were suspended for five games for violating team rules.
Because I wasn't in my element, I'm not sure the exact score, but they won by four points.
After watching a plethora of Kentucky basketball lately, it was interesting to compare the style of play of western Kentucky and south-central Missouri.
My assessment: Kentucky basketball is by far, much, much, much more aggressive and physical. But it seemed like in the Missouri basketball I watched, the teams executed more plays.