What I will miss.

By Lucas Deal

As the 2006-07 school year winds to a close, every day inches me one step closer to graduation and “real life.”

It’s weird. For the last 17 years of my life, I’ve really only had one job: school. I’ve worked part time over the summer, I’ve helped my dad on the farm, I’ve written these columns, but for the most part, all of my attention has been focused on classes. Well, that and my fantasy baseball team. But I digress.

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Honestly, though, when I think about the fact that a major chapter of my life is coming to an end, I’m not really sure how to feel. And don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to start my job. I want to get to work, but I’d be lying if said I won’t miss this at all.

I will.

I’ll miss waking up late on Saturday mornings in the fall and watching eight straight hours of football before I have to do anything productive.

I’ll miss arguing with the TV screen every afternoon during Around the Horn and PTI, as if I’m the fifth panelist on the board and Tony Reali is just too smug to call on me.

I’ll miss coming home from class early the first week of April and October to catch as much opening week and playoff baseball as I possibly can. Royals vs. Devil Rays, Mariners vs. Orioles; who cares whose playing. If it’s on, I’ll watch it.

I’ll miss sitting in my room on a Tuesday night staring at what my roommate calls the “dot machine” so I can stay up to speed on non-televised Cardinals’ games on MLB.com.

I’ll miss laughing hysterically at Charles Barkley during halftime of NBA games on TNT – something I’ve done a lot of this week.

I’ll miss arguing with friends at bars about whether or not Rex Grossman will ever become a franchise quarterback. He won’t.

I’ll miss filling out my bracket and then watching intently as it gets shredded during the first round of the NCAA Tournament. I still get more right then wrong, but it seems like the ones I miss always cost more than the ones I get right.

I’ll miss my roommates and I taking our designated seats around our apartment TV during every important Illini basketball game. I know some will say that my sitting in the same place during every game probably didn’t affect the way our team played, but I’ve always been too superstitious to risk sitting somewhere else.

I’ll miss making the pilgrimage to the Assembly Hall, covered in orange, to watch our beloved Illini take on anyone dumb enough to enter the “House of Paign.” Yeah, I just went there.

And even though I only had season tickets for two years before snagging a media pass to sit on press row, that time I spent up in the C Section during the Wake Forest beat down remains the most fun I’ve ever had at the Hall.

There are other things I’ll miss, too, like taking the TV out on the balcony to watch the NBA playoffs last spring, or skipping out on prime study time to play home run derby freshman year, or planning entire weeks around making sure I was free for three hours on Sunday afternoon.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to do that once I start working. I know I’ll still catch my fair share of Cardinals games, the occasional basketball game on TV and most Sunday afternoon Bears games. I just don’t think I’ll have the freedom to watch whatever I want whenever I want like I have now.

From a sports perspective, that’s what I’ll miss the most.