People who don’t understand sports think fans take them too seriously, but there are relative levels of fandom.
There’s throwing cellphones against walls when Nick Foles throws a pick-six, and then there are the people who support Joe Paterno despite the fact he didn’t do much to stop a suspected child molester. The latter is taking being a sports fan too far, obviously.
For the sake of believing in human decency, you — yes you, Daily Wildcat sports section reader — are a happy medium. And I want to thank you for that.
If you couldn’t tell, this is a goodbye column.
In one of my first Daily Wildcat sports desk meetings, a football beat writer bit off chunks of his chair’s armrest and spit them at me from across a conference room table.
Now, that same writer gets paid to cover one of the most successful football and basketball programs in the nation.
He gets paid because sports matters to readers like you. It matters to the athletes, too. And by default, it matters to me.
Last March in Anaheim, Calif., Mike Christy, a former photojournalist at the Daily Wildcat, took a photograph of Jamelle Horne attempting a 3-pointer with the clock running out.
You remember that, right? A make would have taken Arizona to the Final Four, but he missed it, sending the Wildcats home with a loss in the Elite Eight.
I’m in the background of that picture with a blank-ass stare.
Four years as an objective sports reporter has jaded me. I’ll shrug my shoulders at a huge loss. What can you do but type up an online gamer and rush to the locker room where some grown men are sobbing?
I’ve become detached because sports matter to you, and that’s allowed me to have four incredible years of covering the Wildcats. Thank you, and thanks to everyone who contributed to my four and a half years at the UA.
Thanks to Frank Busch, Mike Candrea and Sean Miller for winning. There is only so much to write about as a reporter covering a bad team.
I also want to thank my parents and family, who put me in UA shirts as a child so that all the shit-talking I took from classmates and teachers would make me hate ASU fans from an early age.
Most of all, thanks to all of my friends.
I know the majority of you because of my job at the Daily Wildcat, because, let’s be real — this was my college experience. And to my other friends, sorry I was only available on the weekends.
Nearly four years after joining the Daily Wildcat, it’s hard to grasp what working here for so long means. Those memories with the warped, comical coworkers-slash-friends here are worth more than the dozens of NBA players I’ve interviewed. Or rubbing shoulders with Craig Sager at an arcade bar. Or watching Pat Forde spit game (I think).
Watching Derrick Williams’ rise to a No. 2 NBA Draft pick was special, but here are some quick, anonymous thanks to those that were there with me through it all:
• Thanks for hiring me at the Daily Wildcat.
• Thanks for making me look awesome for hiring you.
• Thanks for regional — not national — broadcasts and awkward hand placements.
• Thanks for the ride in an ambulance.
• Thanks for the Glass House notes acting as the Phil Jackson to my Luke Walton.
• Thanks for leaving me out of your webs of newsroom romance.
The last thanks singlehandedly covers everyone I missed.
You know who you are.
— Kevin Zimmerman is the sports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com.