By Blake Schuster
There’s something about March Madness that makes you want to pull all your hair out, rip your clothes to shreds, and curl up in a little ball after every wasted possession — and it’s worse for students who currently attend universities in the tournament. Nothing is more unnerving than having to watch the first few games away from campus while on spring break.
When you’ve gone through the entire basketball season from the friendly confines of your home away from home, leaving it for the most important part of the season isn’t exactly ideal. Which is what brought me to Crossing Tavern in Chicago, I couldn’t stand to watch another Kansas tournament game away from Lawrence.
Crossing is one of Chicago’s KU bars, and faced with the choice of suffering through the game by myself I chose to be with others who were dealing with the same.
By the time I got there the Baylor vs. Xavier game was just getting good, and Indiana was getting set to tipoff with Kentucky. But as much as I wanted to freak out about Kansas playing NC State, it was hard to stay nervous in a place like Crossing, much for the same reason it’s hard to stay nervous in Allen Fieldhouse. When you’re surrounded by crimson and blue, it’s a power in numbers feeling. The fact that you have the positive energy around you makes you feel optimistic; it’s simple and necessary. When the Jayhawks started out down 12-3, the optimism never wavered — but the beers did start coming.
Even down at halftime the fans at the bar didn’t portray the feeling that the Jayhawks could lose, and for those of us — like myself — who were still on edge it was calming to have calm people around me.
Yes it’s something that is easy to realize, but when your team is on the brink of ending their season easy is what you need. You need people around who know what you’re feeling and can, if nothing else, suffer or cheer with you. People who understand what it would feel like to run down Mass Street in triumph, and truly believe that fog is a sign of good luck — and with Chicago completely masked under it there was plenty of luck to go around.
Above all else, Crossing offers a safe haven for Jayhawkers, a place where we can become overly rowdy over the act throwing a ball through a hoop, a place where the bartenders feel your pain, and where they sing the Rock Chalk chant after wins. Where they are smart enough to turn the volume up on every TV while the game is on, and are clever enough to mute the commercials that we’ve already seen fifty plus times. It’s a place where they play Jay-Z, Notorious BIG, and Kanye West during halftime so you don’t need to listen to Charles Barkley spew semi-understandable nonsense. It’s the type of environment you need to watch Kansas Basketball.
Besides how could you not love a place that has Boulevard on tap? It just feels like home.