the depth of fandom forms and varies in a lot of different ways. For me... BYU football has been a lifeline at times.
On Oct 21, 1989, as per tradition, BYU beat the snot out of UTEP in Ty's sophomore year. I was at the game w a couple of teen buddies who came out from Nor Cal and stayed with my second oldest bro just south of campus (two of us in sleeping bags on the living room floor, one on a couch, but we thought it was absolutely awesome). We'd driven out with my uncle and were going back with him Monday. It was the first live game I've attended without my third oldest bro Matt. He is five years older than me, loved the Cougs every bit as much as me, became a standout HS linebacker known for fundamentals and leadership ("he's not big, but he's not fast" his defensive coordinator said, a variation on an old saying but then added "but I have never seen him miss tackle he should make")... fun fact, he wore #46 in high school... because at that time Tom Holmoe was the greatest defensive back in BYU history (arguably still is) and Matt thought he would be a safety.
Matt was also brilliant, the smartest guy in any room of peers, and beloved. As a high school junior he once challenged a guest lecturer on relativism who explained "if you think there is a God, then to you there is a God. If I think there is no god, then to me there is no god." He raised his hand and asked "and if I think you're a marshmallow?" the lecturer said "then to you, I am a marshmallow." Matt responded: "but if I try to roast you?"
When I came back to my bro #1s apartment that day we found out that Matt - now 20 and suffering from debilitating depression and bipolar - had taken his life, jumping off the Foresthill Bridge, in Auburn CA, 700 feet. It was a life-changing afternoon and it began with listening to my other bro talking to my parents while I and my friends stared at the Notre Dame vs USC on mute. That game was coming to an end - with USC, down by four with a first and goal and a chance to win - Todd Marinovich threw four consecutive incomplete passes. Watching the fourth one fail, he dropped to his knees, tore off his helmet, sobbed like a child, as ND fans stormed on to the field.
I often relate that Marinovich's limited perspective in that sequence became a metaphor for my life. (I.e. we only see the field and the stadium in front of us, but we're missing the big picture) - but the reality is that I generally limit my own perspective the same way with BYU football.
With BSU coming up this weekend on the 30th anniversary of his death, I knew that my life was still limited in that way, and I just owned it. I said a few times (bathroom, shower, etc "yo, Matt - if you have any tricks this weekend, give the Cougs a hand" - like he cares, but yeah, I still throw it out there sometimes).
I know better than to think that my bro thinks it matters (though I'm sure he still cares - how could he not?) but I still pursue metaphysical favor for the Cougs. I was going to assume he had nothing to do with the weather (although the UTEP game on the day of his passing was windy and rainy) - but when it turned out Van Halen's "Dreams" was the song Lucas picked for the second song of his highlight video, it became obvious: Matt (who bought me 5150, that album, for my 11th birthday, one of the first ten LPs I owned) was the architect.
Thanks for indulging this. The more important point is: mental illness and depression are real, they are far more debilitating than most people understand, and they often impact people you'd least expect. Pay attention to your loved ones and the people around you.
"Sell crazy someplace else - we're all stocked up here."
"Our fan base is, overall, incredibly embarrassing."
-- PortlandUte (such an honest man)
"When it came time for me to select a university, my first choice was BYU here in Provo; however, I did not qualify. Not academically, because I had worked through high school more than I had studied, nor financially, because I could not afford to live away from home. Hence the option I chose was to attend the University of Utah, where I could live at home, work locally, and attend school full-time. Sometimes we need to be willing to adjust our goals and modify our plans while never losing sight of the desired end result."http://i.imgur.com/a73qhzp.gif