For most basketball fans, Northern Iowa's upset of the mighty Kansas Jayhawks was a perfect example of what makes March Madness fun. Who doesn't love to see David slay Goliath? Well, Goliath's millions of adoring fans don't. All winter, while most fans thought only about the NFL, Kansas fans were dreaming of greatness, following their team's every dribble through exhibition games, a non-conference schedule, regular season and conference tournament. When KU lost most people around the country, at worst, ruefully smiled over their busted brackets For Jayhawk fans, it felt like losing in the World Series. To a Triple-A team.
All fans who suffer that kind of bone-crushing, soul-sapping defeat must grieve. Moving through the Kübler-Ross five stages, fans go from denial ("I can't believe we lost....") to anger ("Who's to blame for this?"), to eventually find acceptance ("We had a good season. Wait until next year.") But there are ways to make grieving less painful. Not watching sports is a good start. Last weekend, when Northern Iowa met Michigan State, for instance, was an especially cruel post-loss moment for any Kansas fans. You knew, just knew, that Northern Iowa had no chance. You knew the Panthers would miss half the shots they made against KU. Friends who watched NIU lose, then saw Michigan State make the Final Four, frankly, sounded depressed.