by Lauren Elder
The Baylor men’s 2009-2010 basketball season began with an exhibition game in early November and will end (if all goes well) with a long run in March Madness and the NCAA Tournament. For many in the Baylor family, this was a season of excitement and anxious anticipation as Baylor played some thirty-one games against both conference and non-conference opponents. However, for me, as the girlfriend of a Baylor Bear Pit member—current students who can be seen standing behind the goals at every game with their unmistakable gold-and-black-striped jerseys—these four months meant countless hours at the Ferrell Center, covering faces with face paint, and long weekends of either an unwanted road trip or being what I will call a Bear Pit widow.
My boyfriend is an officer for the Bear Pit this year. As such, he is required to be at all home games a minimum of two hours prior to tip-off and to go on all away-game road trips. His fanatic love for Baylor basketball requires that he also attend all post-season tournaments (barring unavoidable conflicts like tests). This year, with Baylor’s outstanding success and top-twenty-five rankings in both the ESPN and Associated Press polls, this includes both the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.
I have been to numerous games, some of which I watched as a Bear Pitter and some from the stands, and, I will admit, it is impossible not to get caught up in the gripping tension and hopeful excitement in the Ferrell Center when we’re playing A&M and we’re up by three with ten seconds left in the second half. But, although I am always happy when Baylor wins (especially against the Aggies), I can leave the Ferrell Center just as happy with a win as with a loss. Hardcore Bear Pitters can’t; it’s just not in them.
Some outward manifestations of the Bear Pit spirit are more comical and outrageous than others. One student wears a green and gold kilt to every game, and three-foot-tall cardboard faces of players Tweety, Lace, and Lomers have made an appearance at several games this season. For the A&M away game, I had the pleasure of painting Bear Pit jerseys on the torsos of my boyfriend and one of his friends—a boy I had never met. The project took the better part of two hours, during which time I painted black and gold stripes on chests, backs, and arms. The awkwardness of being so close to a stranger’s chest was completely lost on my boyfriend, but not on his friend, who, in response to my boyfriend’s comment about the awkward ride to and from College Station, responded, “More or less awkward than your girlfriend painting my chest?”
At the end of the day, despite the griping and complaining that many Bear Pit girlfriends do during basketball season, we are happy when our men are happy and love to see the little-boy excitement that sporting events bring out. And, to be fair, most of us were well aware of the obsession with all things Baylor and sports when we started dating them, so I guess we can’t complain too much.
So, as we near the end of yet another college basketball season, I hang up my black-and-gold jersey and look forward to the next eight months of Bear Pit-free existence. Until November.