Skip Navigation

Confessions of a Basketball Newbie

Inside the brain of someone who’s never watched a basketball game. Like ever.

Like every other red-white-and-blue-blooded American girl, I grew up with a working knowledge of sports. I was shuffled to soccer practices with all of the other neighborhood first-graders. I was encouraged (read: forced) to participate in volleyball and dodgeball throughout middle and high school. I learned baseball by listening to Ron Santo’s voice crackle through an AM radio feed. In high school, I went to a football game at Camp Randall and knew instantly that I wanted to attend a big sports college. Four years later, I bought my first round of Badger football season tickets. I never missed a game (except for one in 2009, thanks to the Swine ’09, but it doesn’t count as “missing” if you were quarantined, right?).

But I never got in to basketball. I never made it to a game at the Kohl Center, and never even made it out to a bar to watch. It’s like how some people just have absolutely no desire to watch Lord of the Rings (weirdos). I just couldn’t be bothered. Not until two years after I graduated from UW-Madison.

But now I can officially say that I’ve watched my first Badger men’s basketball game. Ever.

It was the Michigan State game on March 1, the one in which the UW clinched a share of the Big Ten title. Or something. I settled onto an uncomfortable wooden bench at the Nitty … and realized I had no idea what I was looking at. Allow me to verbalize the inner monologue of someone watching a new sport for the first time:

But seriously, the menu says that brunch goes until 3 p.m. It was only 2:45 when I got here. Why wouldn’t they let me order French toast?

20:00 Wait, what time is kickoff? First pitch? Coin toss?

19:40 Oh, wait. It already happened. 

17:34 Wow, those guys are tall. I thought I was tall.

14:56 Tee-hee-hee-hee. Michigan State’s coach looks like a Pixar character.

12:52 Why is everyone yelling? I missed something. Was there a foul? Or did someone announce the end of brunch?

11:27 The Nitty has hella good French fries. 

10:43 Wait, that guy fell down. Isn’t that some sort of penalty? Unnecessary roughness after the play?

10:42 Are there even plays? Or do they just run back and forth?

7:24 Is that blood?! This sport is very unsafe.

5:03 I feel like this game has a lot of points. Like … it seems too easy if you can score fifty points in twenty minutes.

3:34 I wonder how far these guys run in one game. Has anyone ever worn a pedometer?

1:53 I think I’ll have a Star Trek marathon when I get home.

1:52 Poor Leonard Nimoy.

0:00 Oh, awesome there’s a halftime!

20:00 Can I please get some more fries?

19:26 CRAP! I missed something again! 

19:25 Maybe mozzarella sticks.

17:43 Ok those kids have been on their phones this entire time. Excuse me, want to try interacting with your family?

17:42 If I ever have kids, they’re never getting cell phones.

17:41 Or at least not ones with a data plan.

17:39 Maybe I should go back to a flip phone.

12:57 Okay, actually though, how do these guys all fit on a plane? Do they each have to buy their own row?

12:55 I hate flying.

9:46 I could really use a nap right about now.

8:29 Gaaawwd, I want to be in sweatpants right now. I ate way too many fries.

8:15 It must be really hard for basketball players to buy clothes. Is that why their uniforms are so baggy? Because they can’t find anything that fits?

8:14 I can’t believe there isn’t a clothing line dedicated to basketball players. Tall&Lanky.

8:13 I am totally going to create a line of clothes catered to the 6’10”, 230-pound man.

5:32 There should be a limit on how long you can stand and hold on to the ball.

5:31 I bet that ball gets awful sweaty. Gross.

2:41 Maybe I should order a milkshake.

00:00 Oh, wow. It’s over already? That was fast.

Did we win?

We won. Yay. 

So about that nap …

Well, what can I say? I gave it a shot. To be fair, I can’t be expected to focus on anything else when I’m waiting on a milkshake. Nevertheless … on, Wisconsin!

*Update: Chelsea has since watched four games, and plans to watch the Badgers play Coastal Carolina on Friday, March 20. She will again be watching at the Nitty, but she will not be distracted by french fries. This time she wants mozzarella sticks.

Related News and Stories