I know this will rub some people the wrong way, but I am a Louisville basketball fan. You can't blame me, I spent my young and impressionable years there and they won a National Championship when I was a youngster living there in 1980. After my family moved to the Charlotte area in 1983, I watched from afar as the Cardinals were able to capture another title in 1986.
Charlotte and Louisville were conference foes in the Metro for a time and renewed their rivalry when they were both Conference USA members up until just a few seasons ago. My dad took me to some games at Charlotte when Louisville came to town (I remember wearing red and being treated very fairly by the home crowd, even when my Cardinals took the road loss here in the Queen City).
I know that Charlotte and East Carolina (the 49ers previous men's basketball opponent) were Conference USA foes, but the games between the Niners and Cincinnati and Louisville were classics, and even I knew this as a fan of one of Charlotte's opponents. Halton Arena became an impossible place for great teams to win. Going back in time to channel my previous fandom, I will admit that I hated for my team to have to travel to play in Charlotte (with the exception of my being able to watch the game in person) because I feared taking the loss.
I now work for the Charlotte 49ers, so I am a traitor to my former fan base. I made the conscious decision to not have a rooting interest in the Cardinals if somehow the teams should play one another. I didn't realistically think that the day would come when I would have to face this scenario. Saturday is going be very difficult for me. I am taping the game because I have plans during the time the teams will play, so I will actually work very hard to block out any knowledge of the game while I'm out on Saturday (if you have my number, DO NOT TEXT OR E-MAIL ME during this period -- I won't even bother to check my e-mail and I won't look at your text, but I'll know who gets put on the naughty list after the fact when I check the time you tried to spoil my watching enjoyment) and I will try to watch the game in its entirety on Sunday morning.
This is my first time facing this day I have been dreading. I have met many of the guys for Charlotte and I have to admit, knowing them and the coaching staff compels me to pull for the 49ers. These are great guys and I want them all to do well. I guess I don't have to be loyal as a fan to the department, but it is hard not to when we work in the same place and we get to know one another. But, this will be the first time in my life I will be against Louisville.
I am admitting that I am using this blog entry to sort of talk out my issues. I don't necessarily want credit from you, the loyal 49ers fan, for my joining your bandwagon for good officially, starting with this game. I just need to talk out my internal struggle, which I am anticipating for this contest. This is a lifetime of being a fan that will unravel for me in this later stage of my life. I may need some support. I abandoned my former clan and am looking for a little understanding. Part of me feels I cannot lose in this game, but other parts feel that I cannot win.
I miss this series. It was good for both programs. There were some classic games and a little venom and a lot of respect. It's weird being on the other side, but it's now to the point for me that I am unsure which side the "other side" is anymore.
OK, I think I talked myself to the conclusion. I am a Niner. This Saturday will finally prove it. It's the last step in my conversion. I talked the talk, but now I will have to walk the walk. I've never converted over as a fan before. I think I can do this. I once felt like a stranger in a strange land. I originally thought I could get away with dual citizenship, but I have had to choose a side and choose to be a member of Niner Nation. I pledge my allegiance to you, Charlotte 49ers.
GO NINERS!!! LET'S TAKE THOSE CARDINALS!
(that felt good, thanks for the sounding board)
Charlotte Media Relations
Former Louisville Native