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Why I’m a fan of the Syracuse Orange

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And related: Why are you?

NCAA Basketball: South Carolina State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the refreshed Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card (official rules). We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!

And now onto Why I’m a fan of the Syracuse Orange.

“You’re not,” said some of you, snarkily. And while you’re entitled to that opinion and the one about me being a closet UNC fan, I’m still very much a long-time Orange(men) supporter, even if they weren’t always my only team.

Growing up in the State of New York, you have very few options in terms of college athletics -- and those choices dwindle even further when you’re on Long Island. I went to Army Black Knights football games here and there, as they were the closest FBS (then-Division I-A) option at the time. But otherwise, choices were limited in my immediate vicinity.

More locally, my in-person viewing experiences consisted of Hofstra football (RIP) -- including a 40- or 50-point drubbing of UConn, plus Hofstra hoops, Stony Brook (before they were a real athletic program) and D-III St. Joseph’s College.

Army V Navy

On television, however, I had far more options.

My dad never watched basketball, but I always followed along with the orange (my favorite color) team from “Upstate” once I had regular use of the internet. He’d watch football, however, and at the time (late 90s-early 00s), it wasn’t hard to find Syracuse on. Like many in the Northeast, my dad’s a Notre Dame fan out of happenstance, so the Irish were priotized on our television most Saturdays. Still, that didn’t stop me from being able to watch SU sporadically from the beginning of the Donovan McNabb era through the cratering of 2005 (right before I arrived on campus).

Around 1999, I was at least able to sell the wider household on watching NCAA Tournament games, and obviously gravitated toward SU. I didn’t mind Boston College and UConn at the time (sorry), but I guess I didn’t understand the gravity of those rivalries just yet. But my primary rooting interests were Syracuse and the Tar Heels for years, as has been noted here numerous times before.

I didn’t drop UNC until I got to Syracuse, but the Orange really took precedence for me starting in 2003. Watching Carmelo Anthony’s play during the NCAA Tournament was immensely entertaining. And as an organized basketball player myself at the time, I wanted to hit threes like Gerry McNamara. The drama of the championship (and of course, “The Block”) had me hooked on the Orangemen for good — so much so that it was a major part of how I narrowed down my college search. SU hoops and Newhouse were really what sold me.

Football-wise, things weren’t so cut and dry. There wasn’t a moment that said “I’m only a Syracuse fan” until I arrived at my first on-campus game (vs. Iowa in 2006, which tells you everything you need to know about how I ended up this way). Watching Donovan McNabb was exciting as a kid, and it even got me to put my hatred for the Eagles (I understood rivalries in pro sports) enough to wish for his success in the NFL.

My other college interests were largely based on who was on TV a lot, however, and at the time, that meant Miami (I know, I know) and USC. I rooted for SU where and when I could. But the games I didn’t want to miss -- and it was easier to sell my dad on watching — were the Hurricanes and Trojans. I’ve always lacked for sleep, and part of that started with those early Pete Carroll squads that kicked off pretty late on the East Coast. No, I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of either program today.

While a student at SU, I went to every Orange football game (somehow), and missed just one basketball game. I lived and died with those teams, but admittedly, my fandom only grew into what it is today following graduation. Being 3,000 miles from Syracuse out in (at the time) San Francisco, I was looking for links back to the team, to feel like I was still part of that community.

I stumbled back over to a website with a strange, long and seemingly off-topic name that I’d lurked at from time to time as an undergrad. Finally in 2011, I started commenting here and there. This guy Sean said I could write articles chastising our new ACC conference-mates in 2012, and well, here we are today.

The current version of my fandom (cross-country trips for games, Twitter alerts, constant conversation, and hours per day of media consumption) was born here on TNIAAM. So I guess that’s the “real” origin story. For better or worse, I live this athletic program and this place as a major part of my life. Perhaps I’m an even bigger fan of NunesMagician and this community than I am of the athletic program? Sounds crazy, but that’s usually what dedication and commitment to this extent means.

But getting back to the initial premise of “why I’m a fan,” I guess it’s all of you at this site. So thanks for that, gang.

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Again, share your own story over on FanPosts. I’m sure someone’s reason for rooting for the Orange far outpaces this one.

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