Reflections on five years of futility

SAN FRANCISCO — I feel old, man.

I’ve been out here since I was 17. I only missed two home games so I could visit my Grandfather. Yeah, I’ve gone and traveled on the road. Not in no Winnebago with them scantily clad sorority folk neither. My support doesn’t waver. I know I’m not the only dedicated one.

But what comes back, man?

I’ve talked those Bears up before. I still give the other fans reasons why we are a better team and a better school. I stand up when it goes bad. I got my pride. The hell if you think you can take Berkeley from my identity, but does it ever change on that gridiron? Will it ever get better? Especially against them? Against USC?

Another semester at school meant one more shot at youth and one more shot at those Trojans. I thought I wanted to be a part of them once. Most Southern California kids do at some point. But they rejected me and I got Berkeley. I won that battle. It’s the best rejection I’ll ever receive.

But ever since they shipped me that little-ass envelope encouraging me to “reapply next year,” I was hellbent, man. I wanted an outright, visible sign of superiority against the cardinal and gold. And the only medium I had was that gridiron. Call it a personal vice. Call it ridiculous. This was me, and I wanted my vengeance.

And from when I moved into Clark Kerr Building Four, I poured my time, attention, support and whatever emotion I had into that Cal football team.

Just one damn time, I wanted to see the Bears party while that enemy walked off in defeat. Instead, I’ll step slowly out of this new venue the same way I’ve twice walked both out of Memorial Stadium and the Coliseum. It’s just another loss to them and for some reason it always feels the same — even if the last three games were over by halftime.

I ain’t surprised, man. I’ve been here before. But at what point does it stop? Does it stop?

We’ve had our high rankings before. Number two in 2007, six in 2009. But what do those even mean, man? At the end of every year there is never a number sitting next to that Cal name. Not since I’ve been here at least.

My faith is strong as it is blind. But damn, I feel jaded.  I don’t wear that blue and gold in the press box and I can’t vocalize my feelings, but don’t think this loss didn’t sting just as bad as the others.

Hell, I should feel lucky. I haven’t been in this Cal game my whole life. There are plenty of folks older than me, more hardened than me. But until December, that ID card means something in my wallet. My heart will be too heavy when it won’t scan any longer.

Yeah, I know. Just get it out of your system: I care too much about this football team.

And you are probably right.

But I am who I am. I can’t change the fact that my heart still jumps when the Bears hit the end zone and drops twice as far on turnovers. Sports are what I do. What I study. What I live. Can’t change who you are, right?

I didn’t think this year would be different from the others. I learned from my past mistakes of investing too much hope. I try not to let it crush me anymore. But these Trojans were vulnerable. That little semblance of hope still crawled around my hardening heart all week.

So who takes the fall, man? I know these players feel it. Coaches, too. But finally give us some accountability for once. Let’s get that win. Let’s make a change.

Because it’s not the pain that stings anymore. It’s the familiarity.

This game is rigged, man.

I’m tired. Must be because I’m getting so old.

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