I am and always will be a Kansas Jayhawk. But my first awareness of college basketball was thanks to Wichita State University, the very school whose team just advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of this year’s NCAA men’s national college basketball tournament by trouncing top-seeded and top-ranked Gonzaga last night.
Wichita State was an integral part of my childhood. My dad was a professor there for decades, teaching criminology, editing the journal he founded, The International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, and solidifying his legacy in the field of administration of justice. I also took math, literature, and computer science classes there in the summer while I was in high school. And, importantly, WSU’s infamous basketball coach, Gene Smithson, lived three doors down from us. Growing up, we looked up to him and the young men he coached–particularly Antoine Carr and Xavier McDaniel, who subsequently became nationally recognized professional basketball players. Smithson popularized (and perhaps even invented) the term “MTXE”–“mental toughness, extra effort.” I live by this phrase every day.
So I have to say I was very pleased with WSU’s win over the Bulldogs last night. As a Kansas native now living in Washington state, I empathize with both teams and their fans. Nobody with ties to either school slept very well last night.
Here’s the Wichita State Shocker in bed. You just watched your team pull down the heretofore #1 ranked college basketball team in the country. Only now that you’re in bed are you processing what this huge upset means for you and your fellow Wu-Shocks. It’s pure rapture. You’re in the Sweet Sixteen in a year of absolute mayhem in men’s college basketball. There’s no clear, inarguable favorite to take the title like there was last year. It’s anybody’s tournament; any team can win it all. This year it might, just might, be the Shockers! Your head is buzzing from all this emotion and mental racket. You imagine the improbable run to the championship game, a buzzer-beating final shot that clinches the title, the ticker-tape parade down Douglas Street. How are you gonna sleep with all that adrenalin running through your brain?
Here’s the Gonzaga Bulldog in bed. You’ve become tired of the pundits and analysts saying that Gonzaga became #1 by default. You’ve just heard Dick Vitale on ESPN predicting loudly that “the Shockers are gonna shock the nation.” Sure, your school is in the West Coast Conference, but you’ve had some wins against quality non-conference teams this season, and going into the Big Dance you know the Bulldogs now have the chance to prove the nay-sayers wrong. And then . . . crushing, unmitigated defeat–in the third round. It’s like someone ran over your dog and then sped off. You feel helpless and in despair, left with the bitter reality of the loss. You go to bed truly in mourning, knowing the mourning will only continue upon awakening the next day. How can you hope to sleep tonight, knowing that any temporary rest will bring only minimal reprieve and solace?
Man, I’ve gone to bed both ways every late March and early April for years. I know exactly how it feels. And the fact is that all of us have, basketball fan or not, for one reason or another, throughout our lives. Why? Because we’re human. We have emotions, hopes, dreams. We put ourselves at risk emotionally by daring to hope in the face of adversity or unfavorable statistics. When the risk pays off, the elation is something you will savor for the rest of your life. But when you lose, well, that’s also something you remember forever.
It is part of the human condition for these emotional peaks and troughs to affect your sleep. As such, everybody is susceptible to at least some occasional transient insomnia. Usually the insomnia burns off as its trigger fades into the background of your life. However, in some cases the sleeping problem can persist as dysregulation of bedtime schedules and mounting frustration over the insomnia set in and worsen. It’s at this point that people start to schedule appointments to see guys like me.
Bottom line here: anything you think about that is of emotional importance–whether good or bad–can cause at least transient insomnia. Just ask Shocker and Bulldog fans.
I’m hoping that I won’t be going to bed tonight like the Zags did last night. KU is playing Roy Williams and his Tarheels. MTXE, baby, and Rock Chalk Jayhawk!