There are many ways, I suppose, for a bunch of college-aged men to spend a few hours in a strange city before a very important evening.
Add in the fact that they’re joined by the collective purpose of their university’s sports team, and it’s surely no surprise to discover them in a pack, dressed rather uniformly and leisurely in school colors, at a location where they can relax, unwind, and think about the mission if they wish or put it out of mind completely.
I spotted the unmistakable green hue of the Spartans of Michigan State on a knot of customers late this morning waiting to buy popcorn and whatnot as I made my way into the Regal Cinemas theater in the Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA. I was heading to a matinée performance of the Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart comedy “Get Hard” for my Monday Film Blog review on the Syracuse New Times site. I wished one of the players good luck on the way to the theater, and he smiled and said thank you.
Then he entered the same theater as I did, and joined the rest of the party, where they laughed throughout at the funny stuff.
The team bus was parked near my car, so we all departed the movie at the same time, and I was able to observe many mall folks recognize the athletes and wish them well for their NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen game tonight in the Carrier Dome against Oklahoma.
During the movie, my dear wife Karen had texted me from work that she was able to score us for a reasonable rate two tickets to tonight’s doubleheader, which opens with a battle between the Syracuse Orange’s ACC mates Louisville and North Carolina State. I told one of the players this good news on the walk over the pedestrian bridge, and he actually listened, nodded, grinned, and appeared to be happy with me.
Then their traveling group of about two dozen got onto the comfortable-looking charter with the sign that designated it as the Michigan State team bus in the front window. I didn’t see any coaches with them.
I’ll be writing about the Sweet Sixteen experience around the dome for my community blog column for Syracuse Public Media site waer.org.
If you were preparing for a big evening event away from home with a group, how would you like to prepare in the morning beforehand? Have you ever gotten to travel on a chartered bus, and if so, where did you go and did you like the experience? Would you talk to players from a team from another city if you encountered them out and about in your hometown, or leave them alone?