Sheehan ’12: love and basketball

Sports Columnist
Thursday, December 1, 2011

This whole NFL season has felt a bit empty to me. Don’t get me wrong — it’s been incredibly entertaining and I’ve loved every minute of it. The problem is that I know how I’m going to feel about this season in a couple of months.

The NFL is like a whirlwind summer romance. You spend 16 days together — maybe a couple more if things go pretty well —  grinning like the infatuated idiot you are the whole time. Then, as quickly as she arrived, the summer fling disappears out of your life because the ice cream shop she works at is closing for the summer. You’re heartbroken and try to keep in contact through Facebook, but the bottom line is that the abbreviated time you had together is a blessing in disguise. You like her because she is fun, spontaneous and, most importantly, mysterious.

But if you hang out with her for an extended period of time, the mystery disappears and you realize that you don’t have too much in common. Your conversations begin to fall flat. She hates your favorite movies and books, and she reveals that her cat’s name is “Husband.”

The NFL season is the same way. It avoids the pitfalls of the MLB season by being spontaneous and always having an impact. You only have between 16 and 20 games and every single one is important. “Upsets” are much more common in football than in other sports, because we don’t have enough of a chance to analyze exactly how good a team is. The Baltimore Ravens can beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and lose to the Seattle Seahawks the following week. The Buffalo Bills can start the season 4-1 and have a win percentage under .500 six weeks later. The Cincinnati Bengals “upset” the Bills in Week Four, but we now know that they are the better team.

Like the pretty girl from the summer, the season is also accessible and friendly. Football is an incredibly complex sport for players and fans who know the game well, but the general concept is pretty easy for newcomers to figure out. One side tries to get the ball to the other side of the field. The other team hits the person with the ball. It’s immediately clear when a big play happens and even someone who has seen a couple of games can tell you that Tyler Palko is a terrible quarterback.

This whole NFL season has been me dating the summer fling. I’m having fun, and I will always remember these days with a smile, but I’ve seen the mixtape I made for her in the trash. She can tell me that she just isn’t that fond of Arcade Fire and Guster, but this makes it clear to me that this relationship isn’t going anywhere.

But then, a miracle. The NBA season returns!

Now, I would be lying if this means that I’m immediately transitioning to NBA mode and ignoring the rest of the football season. I’m going to be paying close attention when the New England Patriots receive a visit from the Indianapolis “this isn’t funny anymore, it’s just sad” Colts this week. But the presence of an NBA season at the end of the football season is like a reassuring pat on the shoulder and a comforting message from a friend that says, “The right one for you is out there somewhere.”

Personally, the NBA established itself last year as serious marriage potential. We had always been friendly and run in the same groups of people, but then there was that one night where we started talking about how fantastic Border Terriers are and how The Temper Trap is one of the most underrated bands of all time. Metaphorically speaking, that night would have been the entire NBA playoffs last year, capped off by the Miami Heat, representative of evil incarnate to 29/30ths of the NBA fan base, being outplayed by the Dallas Mavericks in a storybook ending for a franchise that badly needed a win.

That cemented it. I was head-over-heels in love, and I still am to this day. The lockout threatened to separate us, but like in all romantic comedies, the NBA and I found a way to overcome the obstacles to be together. Now we’re settling in for our first date this Christmas, and there are so many questions to be answered.

Who will the Heat add in the offseason? Will Jeff Green learn the human emotion known as happiness? What will the Memphis Grizzlies be capable of now that Rudy Gay is back? Will Blake Griffin leap over a Kardashian for the dunk contest this year? Is the previous statement a sexual innuendo? Can the Mavs repeat facing a possible future without Tyson Chandler? Can Kobe Bryant elevate his sneer from ‘constipated’ to ‘game face’? Will more than 50 percent of the emails I get this week be Los Angeles Lakers’ fans telling me I’m stupid? Can Carlos Boozer become the player the Chicago Bulls need him to be? How many inanimate objects will Kevin Garnett scream at this year? (“A SPORK?! IT STABS AND SCOOPS MY FOOD?! ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!”)

Most importantly, who will win the NBA championship?

We have some time before the hoops season starts, and I’m going to be watching pigskin the whole time. But the NBA season is back, and I can’t stop daydreaming about her.

Thanks for reading this semester. Check back in January for more sports talk and have a happy holiday season.

Sam Sheehan ’12 would like to apologize to the NHL for leading her on.  He’d also like to swing by later and pick up his iPod and Friends DVDs. Talk sports with him at or follow him on

Twitter @SamSheehan.