Opinion column: Testing my loyalty

By Josh Purse

Like the Illini, I have a test tonight.

My opponent is not North Carolina, but rather the second hour exam in my Political Science 241 class.

The Illini’s test begins at 8:21 p.m. My test begins at 7 p.m.

Here’s the problem – I usually go to Legend’s hours before tip-off to ensure I have a spot to watch the game among my crazy-loyal Illini brethren. I did it for the Wisconsin game, the Michigan State game and most recently for the Louisville game.

If I do that today, I will miss my test, which is worth 20 percent of my grade. I might not pass the class.

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    Thing is, I sort of have to pass the class. I’m a senior doing everything I can to get out of here with a diploma in six weeks. And I need Poli Sci 241 to graduate.

    Ah, but there is a glimmer of hope.

    My class is split up into two different sections. There’s my Monday section and also a Tuesday section. So I can just take the test on Tuesday, right?

    Wrong. There aren’t enough seats in the classroom to accommodate people like me who want to change sections for the test.

    The professor said the only way (aside from the illness, family emergency, etc.) Mondayers would be allowed to attend the Tuesday section would be with a ticket stub as proof they were in St. Louis for the game.

    Now I must admit that many professors would not have even given students that option, so I applaud him for at least showing some sympathy for die-hard fans who trekked to the Edward Jones Dome to cheer on our Illini.

    What the professor might not understand, though, is that there are thousands of other die-hard fans on this campus who could not meet the Illini in St. Louis, for one reason or another.

    You know, the kids that turned Green Street into Orange Street on Saturday night. The ones that blanketed the Alma Mater like she was freezing to death. The same ones that marched to the Quad because they couldn’t march to the arch.

    And some of those student-fans are in this professor’s Monday section. And while they really might care about the comparative politics of developing countries, there is really only one thing that deserves their full attention on Monday night. And it’s not Jamaica’s economy. Or Kim Jong-il’s brutal dictatorship in North Korea.

    It’s Illini basketball. It’s supporting a team that has made Champaign-Urbana the envy of college campuses around the country. It’s going all-out to embrace a program that made it to its first national championship ever on its 100th birthday.

    And while the referee may be tossing the ball in the air at 8:21 p.m., that is not when the game starts. Not here, at least. Not for me.

    It begins at Legend’s, or wherever you choose to watch the game, well ahead of tip-off. Like I said, hours before, in many cases. It starts with the first I-L-L chant of the day and doesn’t end until the last I-N-I.

    So, I guess it’s gut-check time. What would you do?

    Miss the test. Risk failing the class. Gamble on graduation. Experience Illini basketball the way it should be experienced for the last time in your life.

    I’m all in.