I went to watch the Texas Aggies play basketball against the University of Oklahoma men in Norman today. The main reason I went is because the end of an era is drawing nearer, and I do not know when an A&M team will again play a game in Norman that I might be able to attend.
As I was trying to decide for sure whether to go to a game I was pretty sure the Aggies would lose (they did, 65-62) and likely would not showcase high-quality basketball (it did not), many thoughts washed through my mind. From the first time I heard it mentioned and all along the discussions and news reports, I've never been happy about the possibility of Texas A&M leaving the Big 12, where it played teams along the I-35 corridor including two in Oklahoma, for the Southeastern Conference. But that didn't stop it from becoming reality, and this year is the farewell tour.
The OU/A&M football game in November was in Norman, but it was the week after my dad's death, so it was pretty easy to decide not to go even though I knew they might never play here again. (I also knew they'd probably lose, which they did.) I also missed the Aggie women's basketball team's final Big 12 trip to Norman last month, because it was on a work night. (I also feared they would lose in Norman, and they did.) I've never gone to an Aggie baseball or softball game in Norman, but I have attended their games in Big 12 tournaments in Oklahoma City. I hope to have chances to do that this year, which I guess means the farewell tour might not be quite over. But it's hard to bank on the future, so I decided not to let this opportunity pass by.
It helped that tickets were just $10. It also helped that I have an iPhone to provide a distraction if needed. It was OU's final home game, so it was senior day, and I guess there were various promotions going on, because there was a much bigger walk-up crowd that I would have expected. (And of course, there were the white Cheer Like A Champion t-shirts that seem to have been on the seats for every OU game I've attended in Lloyd Noble Center; draped over the seatbacks, they make it look like people are sitting there even when the arena is far from full.)
By time I got through the line, it was 7-6 Aggies when I entered the building. And before I knew it, the Aggies were behind, and they stayed that way the rest of the game, trailing by at least 14 in the second half. As I wrote on Facebook about that time: "This is hard to watch on so many levels. I knew that when I decided to come. I will stay anyway. Because either I will miss it when it's gone, or this will help me not miss it so much." But then the Aggies started a comeback, and I had to hope the Sooners might be able to blow just one more game in which they had a lead at halftime and toward the end. But that was not to be. Gig'em Aggies, anyway, and now the two teams will play again Wednesday in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City.
Among my thoughts before and during the game:
-- I hate that the Aggies will no longer be playing in the Big 12. Not only does that mean they won't play games against OU and Oklahoma State University, but they won't be included in the newspaper's Big 12 coverage nor on local television stations' games of interest. I hate it! Boo hoo! There's nothing I can do about it. But it doesn't mean I have to like it. I anticipate withdrawal sensations in the season to come.
-- It made me think of why I didn't go to the football game, which brought thoughts of my dad's final weeks that still are amazingly peaceful for me to reflect on. My reason for not going to that game somehow influenced my desire to go today. I think Daddy would have approved. He knows his kids like their sports.
-- I thought of the wide variety of Aggie men's basketball games I've attended in Norman. I sat through probably the team's lowest-scoring half in history (it seems like Blake Griffin blocked every shot attempt; I wish I could remember the stat on how long the Aggies went without scoring) one year, but I also enjoyed some very pleasant wins under Coach Gillispie and Coach Turgeon. Most years there has been a pretty good turnout of people wearing maroon, but this year about the only people I saw wearing A&M colors were right behind the team bench. My sister came to Norman for a few of the games along the way, and Flat Stanley also attended with us one year. (Where, oh where, is that picture?) Overall, the memories make me smile.
-- I came ever-so-close to not going. My husband happened to have plans for the day that didn't include me. If that hadn't been the case, I doubt I would have attended, because he wouldn't go, and I wouldn't want to leave him at home. So, I could say thank you fate, but God knows I prayed about this, too, so I'll say, thank You, God!
-- The only negative is that after the game, I could have gone to an event at church to help with care packages for troops, but I ended up not going. I had time and even stopped to get supplies and snacks. But when I sat down for a bit and the cat got on my lap, I decided to just stay home. I'm trying not to fret about why I make decisions I don't understand. Supporting the troops would have been a good thing to do, and I would have enjoyed the fellowship. But I just didn't go. One reason I went to the game was because I didn't want to regret not going. I wish that would have kicked in regarding the event at church. I do think there will be future opportunities. Still, yes, I feel some regret.
-- I have to remind myself, in this and all things: Thank You, God, for Your presence throughout the day as I tried to decide what to do. Help me trust You, God, with those decisions and their results, to Your glory. And thank You for many, many good moments today that had nothing to do with either of these events. I feel grateful and blessed. May I live to Your glory.