Swing and a Miss

I thought air balls were dances on planes

Thomas DeLapp

More stories from Thomas DeLapp

Swing and a Miss
May 10, 2023

Photo by Marisa Valdez

“Happy March Madness,” Thomas DeLapp, a fourth-year English student and Spectator Sports Editor said. NOT. I’ve never said that. 

It seems to me that no one cares about college basketball until March, then they care a lot. They make their little brackets, get in fights with their best friends and have a minimum volume of “extremely loud” all month. After March, people go back to not caring about college basketball.

Now, UW-Eau Claire is a Division III school, so I don’t even really have incentive to care about March Madness. This is not Blugold slander. I have genuinely been proud of the seasons our basketball teams have had. Go Blugolds!

But that doesn’t mean I’ve shunned basketball, nay nay nay. Some of my closest friends are big NBA fans. I learned early on in life that you should show your loved ones you care by showing interest in their hobbies, so I started learning about basketball.

My basketball knowledge is rooted in a deep, never-ending love for “Space Jam.” After a rewatch (or three), the only natural progression was to move on to “The Last Dance,” the docu-series following Michael Jordan and the ‘97-’98 Bulls.

I’m a little sucker for drama, so I ate it up.  After watching “The Last Dance,” I joined my roommates in cheering on the Milwaukee Bucks as they won the 2021 NBA finals (Bucks in six). And wouldn’t you know it, I actually had a really nice time watching sports. Whoulda thunk?

Now, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question: Am I a bandwagon fan? I chose the Bucks as my team during the finals they won. Seems very bandwagon-y. 

In my defense, I only started caring about basketball at all (except “Space Jam”) during that time, and the whole point of it was to support my Bucks-loving besties. Also, the Buck’s colors are very nice and classy. Easy to get behind. I like the deer Bango. What a champ. 

I’m from Minnesota, though, so according to the strict rules of where you were born, I’m supposed to be a Timberwolves fan. From what I’ve seen, though, being a Wolves fan isn’t very fun or wholesome. If the Wolves are up against the Bucks, I’ll cheer for the Wolves, though. It’s okay because I know they’ll lose. 

These same Buck-loving besties generously let me tag along to the court to play some pickup with them, and I thoroughly embarrass myself every time by not being able to make a single shot, dribble consistently or know how to do defense. 

PIG is much more my speed. HORSE has too many letters, I like PIG better. Honestly, it’s just so much easier to sit on the couch and watch a game than it is to try and play one. 

The thing I love most about basketball, though, is its accessibility. All you need to play is a ball and some form of hoop. It’s the same reason soccer is so popular — pretty much anyone can play. 

Nowadays, I’ll grab a snack and nestle in to listen to my besties yell at the TV during games. Their opinions are strong, their deep love for Giannis endearing. 

I spend most of every game providing valuable color commentary on the players’ shoes. 

So I guess I’m a Bucks fan. I like it when they win because it makes my friends happy. A good season this year, too. The big three — Giannis, Khris and Jrue are back, and when the Bucks are healthy, they’re the best. I may have plagiarized that analysis from my friend, but at least I  know what it means now. 

“Space Jam” is still better than every real-life game, though. 

DeLapp can be reached at [email protected]