A Goodbye to Big East Conference Basketball

By Joseph Nardone
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

For the last seven months or so I have been on my computer assigning blame for the demise of the Big East Conference. I’ve pointed my finger at conference realignment, football money and Mike Aresco as being as incompetent as he is delusional. While coming off as bitter, I think it was more of just not wanting the league going away to be true. That somehow, this was all just a big misunderstanding. Yet, it is not a misunderstanding and the league will be gone in a few hours.

I don’t want to use the word “love” while describing how I feel about the Big East. That word better fits when describing how you feel about your significant other or your children. I rather live by the motto of “Love life, like sports.” It is a better way to live your life than treating a bunch of people playing a sport as the end all be all. However, the Big East has provided me with some of the greatest moments of my life, with the people who I have loved.

My father used to take me to Madison Square Garden in my youth. We lived only a couple of hours away and if you went to the right game, the prices were just right for a man who struggled to keep his own business afloat. We would go, no matter the teams playing, to “watch” the game of basketball, but more so, to do it together. Outside our collective caring for the game of hoops, there wasn’t many things a man in his 40’s could share with his kid before he even turned 10. Yet, for a few games and a dozen hours a year, my father and I were two peas in one pod.

Then, years passed and I never gave those trips to the Garden another thought. As if they were moments, albeit good ones, that were not that important to me.

Time went on, and spitting in the face of better judgement, a higher-power made me into a father. More time passed, then somehow, through brainwashing I suppose, my 4-year-old daughter is now obsessed with the St. John’s Red Storm — as that is her daddy’s favorite team. She doesn’t understand the game of basketball, just that her father will yell at the TV when things are not going the Red Storm’s way. You would think she would get angry that another cartoon wasn’t on the picture-box on a Saturday afternoon, but she must think it is her special bonding moment with her father. More than likely, though, she probably thinks she is being unjustly punished and is just trying to roll with the punches to appease her unreasonable father.

I love my family and I really liked the Big East. But the Big East will be gone in a very short while. In its place will be the America 12, a league composed of teams not even remotely the same caliber as the old Big East. Then there is the “new” Big East, a conference where the Catholic Seven are trying to restart a new tradition with old rivalries. I choose not to pick sides, but root for both to succeed in whatever it is they are trying to do. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that my heart is going with the Catholic Seven, as my angst is directed towards Aresco and the America 12.

Is the dissolving of the Big East personal, no — but I have taken it as such. As my father had done for me, I have tried for my daughter. I too have very little in common with a 4-year-old. Yet, thanks to a basketball league she really doesn’t understand, we have had our bonding moments where we both have had fun and yelled at an inanimate object because of, well, nothing of that much importance.

Now it is back to cartoons, other basketball and playing dollhouse. Sure, she won’t notice the difference of the games on the TV or who is playing who, but I will. A great part of my youth feels like it is being taken away from me when the Big East tournament comes to an end. Another part of my young span as a father feels like I am losing the chance to pass my father’s bonding technique onto my daughter. Now, unfortunately, I will have to find a way to come up with my own way (my poor, poor daughter!).

The Big East Conference is only just a league. I don’t love it nor will I need to go to counseling now that it has passed. I will be able to share the memories that came from the league with anyone else who has grown up watching it. Still, I feel bad for my daughter, who probably does not care regardless, that she will not grow up with the ability to watch a real Big East game in the Garden — as her father and grandfather did before her.

Whether you care enough about a league going away is up to each individual person. For those who don’t care or just accept what has been going on, that is fine and their own prerogative. I, myself, can feel the pretentiousness seeping out of my fingers every time my fingers hit the keyboard. You probably could care less, about why I care so much, for a basketball league. To each their own on how they feel about things such as trivial as basketball.

Is it a little pretentious for a person to care so much about a basketball league? You bet. Everything about romanticizing sports is pretentious. After all, it is only a game played by people, which is supposed to have no real impact on the lives of those who watch it.

But it has.

Goodbye, Big East Conference.

Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone

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