The Question: Does Conference Pride Mean Rooting for Michigan to Bring the NCAA Men's Basketball Title Back to the Big Ten for the 1st Time Since 2000?

By Ramzy Nasrallah on March 28, 2018 at 1:05 pm
March 24, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines forward Moritz Wagner (13) cuts down the net following the 58-54 victory against the Florida State Seminoles in the championship game of the West regional of the 2018 NCAA Tournament at STAPLES Center.
© Gary A. Vasquez | USAT Sports

The short answer: Shut your damn mouth.

The longer one: Conference pride is a southern invention perpetuated by conference commissioners and network executives to aggregate stakeholders and markets, reappropriating an excruciatingly dumb tradition hatched by the descendants of Americans who finishing second in the Civil War where small and insignificant Ws are procured in a futile attempt to obscure a large and residually humiliating L left behind by their ancestors.

hahahahaha loooooooool
A resplendent symphony of fart noises.

That tradition has been repackaged nationally as conference pride, which is unique to amateur athletics; a tradition since exactly 1932 intended to quench an unrequited thirst for winning.

The way conference pride works is that when your team loses, you root for your region. Because it's only natural to hope your most relevant and dangerous rivals gain strength and adulation while putting more distance between themselves and their closest peers.

In the case of this year's Final Four, it would mean hoping Michigan - which has been fleecing Ohio of its most talented guards for nearly a decade with Ohio State's complicity - can capture college basketball's brass ring. Because championships are enjoyed by the conference, which is why Ohio State's 2014 CFB trophy sits in a beautiful glass case display in West Lafayette.

Conference pride isn't real. If you suffer from this condition, your emotions have been easily swindled. Shorter version:

Conference pride started as southern bullshit and then infected the rest of the country via ESPN bullshit and lucrative television contract bullshit.

This happens nowhere else in sports. Saints fans don't pull for the Falcons unless they need the Falcons' help, then they do so with teeth clenched. The Hawks are the NBA's second-worst team; their fans aren't hoping Charlotte scraps its way into the playoffs to salvage their shitty season. Ask Braves fans about National League East pride and then pay attention to how their faces react.

Notice those are all southern sports teams. They just don't participate in a conference that unifies all of the former Confederate states, together. That's the genesis. Without it, there's no conference pride.

It isn't a Michigan thing, either. Pulling for the Wolverines this Saturday because you hold a very personal, deeply-seeded bitterness toward Loyola-Chicago has nothing to do with conference pride. Three seasons ago Wisconsin made it to the title game against Duke. Hating Duke basketball is a valid emotion and reasonable position to hold.

Lesser of Two Evils is an agonizing tradition in American rooting interests (our sports actually stole it from our politics). You have to live with and justify your choices. You do need to answer to you.

Which means explaining your actions while passing the red-face test. It will always pass if you made a wager or have bracket interests. It passes if your favorite niece that you're so proud of is enrolled there. It will go on your permanent record for self-incrimination if you just wanted the office park by O'Hare airport to be happy.

Conference pride enthusiasts can defend their actions to a degree - like if Michigan prevails this weekend, the Big Ten will get some extra money and we'll all get our shares of it mailed to us in early May when the checks get cut. Shortly thereafter, Ohio State basketball will receive the upgrades it's entitled to simply because the national champion is a division rival, similar to the way the Buckeyes' two national titles in football over the past 16 seasons have brought conspicuous lift to the Wolverines and the Big Ten overall.

So there is a benefit to conference pride - who doesn't like money? But if your dignity can't be bought, perhaps you should consider that conference pride is dirty myth no shower can fully clean, because if you root for Michigan because it's in Ohio State's conference...yeah you're just rooting for Michigan.

Should be a fun weekend! Go Ramblers. Beat Michigan. But not by too many points, please - that might make the whole conference look bad.

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