Column: For Love of the Game

Why are you a fan? Take your pick.
Marquette’s athletic program has a tradition that runs deeper than Donald Trump’s pockets, so you’ve got a lot of options: 128 years of talent, titles, tattoos and tutelage.
Now, if you’ve been around since the Jurassic Period like some hardcore fans, this question probably won’t take a bottle of aspirin to answer. But if you’re a newly minted Golden Eagle—yes, I’m talking to you, freshman—then you might want to pay attention. Time to get schooled.
“Marquette is like a family, that’s why it’s special,” men’s tennis coach Steve Rodecap said. “The support from administration is incredible, and the coaches live and die with their teams. It’s a prestigious school and I wake up most days just thankful I get to work here.”
True that. There’s a Bradley Center full of reasons to get on board. Coach Rodecap did it for the love, but Lazar Hayward—the three-pointing shooting, low-post    banging, and bronze-medal winning big man—came to Milwaukee for more barbaric reasons.
“Obviously I like the history of Marquette, but I always wanted to go to a school that was a strong program but still an underdog that people didn’t believe in,” Hayward said. “I wanted to shut people up.”
And then there are the experts — the people who can’t miss a basketball game without going into cardiac arrest.
“Marquette just has such a competitive and electric environment, and I think that’s what it’s all about,” John Pudner, class of ’87, said.
Pudner authored the Marquette basketball edition of Campus Prowler. He knows his stuff. Pudner said that he’s probably the only Marquette basketball season ticket holder who lives in Alabama. I believe him.
One time while on a business trip he saw his clients in the hotel lobby just a few minutes before tip-off. Afraid they would ask him to have a drink with them and risk missing the game, Pudner pulled a Rambo and hid behind some plants until they were gone. That’s dedication. That’s what it’s about.
“I’m such a bigger fan now than I was when I was in college,” Pudner said. “I would suggest to all Marquette students that they take advantage of everything now, because you might regret it once you graduate.”
Freshmen, you taking notes?
You see, everyone has their own perogative when it comes to Marquette sports. And I know that I bleed gold and blue for very specific reasons.
It’s for the annually ranked basketball teams. The small-private-school-going-up-against-the-Big East-juggernauts Napoleon complex we have. For Marquette Madness and March Madness, and all the highs and lows, joy and heartache that fall in between. For Buzz’s buzz cut. For Al’s pompadour.
It’s for that national title in 1977 where Marquette established itself as a legitimate player, and for the magical Final Four run back in 2003 where the Golden Eagles proved they were here to stay. For Dwyane Wade. For the brightest of yellows and the truest of blues that make up the coolest uniforms in college sports, and for the Big Three—Jerel McNeal, Dominic James and Wesley Matthews—who wore them with honor while they were breaking school records like Usain Bolt in high-tops.
It’s for Krystal Ellis’ all-time scoring record. For Steve Rodecap pulling a 180 with the men’s tennis team in just a few years. For the men’s golf team winning the Big East title in 2008 and for Mike Van Sickle being the best Marquette athlete you’ve never heard of. It’s for the passion. For the greatness.
So like I said, take your pick.