Instant Karma

Watching Ohio State lose in the conference championship was thrilling, but Sparty’s win couldn’t carry me home.

Last winter I won a trip to a College Gameday matchup of my choosing and I got to redeem it at the Big Ten Conference championship game. It’s kind of weird to attend your conference championship game when your team is not playing in it, but I thought it would be fun to be among by fellow Big Ten fans. I also really wanted to see Ohio State lose. I knew it was a long shot, but I thought we had a chance at seeing something special. And we did.

Ohio State came out too excited at the start of the game and quickly racked up pass interference penalties and personal fouls. That kept a couple early Michigan State drives alive and gave them confidence. Ohio State came back in the second half, but Michigan State’s defense shut them down again in the 4th quarter. Once Michigan State’s offense got another drive together, you could see desperation starting to show on the Ohio State sideline. Their fans (who were all around me) were also becoming un-hinged. When the clock expired, I enjoyed the rare thrill of Schadenfreude in-person. I felt like the forces of the universe were working in my favor.

The next morning I sat eating my breakfast in the hotel, with a beaming smile across my face as every Ohio State fan slumped by. Then I read the story on ESPN.com, which described Urban Meyer’s sad post-game pizza, which kind of touched me.

What kind of monster am I? Here’s a guy who works so hard that he’s giving himself stress-related heart problems and I am celebrating his failure. It reminded me of how hard losses are on my dad (who also dips into cold pizza after games) and made me question why I would wish that on anyone. I started to worry maybe the forces of the universe were not done with me yet.

Snow started falling as we headed back to the airport and we also heard there was a huge snowstorm in Philly. We found out my brother’s flight was delayed a couple of hours because of the backups in Philly. I left him to catch my connecting flight to Chicago, feeling a little guilty. Then when I landed he texted me his flight was cancelled. I felt really bad that our trip would force him to take a day off of work. I couldn’t get off scot-free though, my flight back to Hartford was delayed in Chicago, then cancelled. I would have to spend a day in Chicago before I could get back.

All in all things could have been much worse. My brother caught an earlier flight back to Philly and I spent a day working with my colleagues at ESPN Chicago. It was a great experience and I really am still happy that Ohio State lost. But I think next time I’ll try not to gloat so much, or else karma may catch up with me in another way.

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