The night belongs to the Badgers

It started out with a beautiful day.

There was no wind from the lakes, and the sun was just bright enough to shine through every badger’s heart.

Walking down State Street, the main street connecting UW-Madison campus to the State Capitol, I saw students, parents, younger siblings and the whole community wearing red: red headbands, tank tops, shorts, socks and sneakers. People started to fill the street and restaurants since three or four o’clock in the afternoon for the 7:49 p.m. game. The entire street was vibrant, filled with energy and excitement.

This all began with the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team advanced into the Final Four for this year’s N.C.A.A. competition a week ago.

Today, we faced Kentucky and lost, 74-73, in the last minute. To be precise, the last six seconds.

So “Kentucky Upsets Wisconsin and Will Face UConn in N.C.A.A Final,” as the New York Times said.

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The New York Times later changed the title to “With Late 3-Pointer, Kentucky Edges Wisconsin to Advance to Final.” The article reported more in-depth information on the players

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The lost to Kentucky Wildcats did “upset” many of us who were watching the game. The picture of a little girl wiping off tears from her eyes at the end of the game tormented me. For the audience as a whole, “edge” is a more objective word to use when it comes to news coverage.

I checked Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and Renren (the Chinese Version of Facebook). Some of my friends almost did a real-time report of the entire game. One of my friends said on her WeChat status, “It’s not upsetting that we lost, but we were so close to win.” It is overwhelming to look at those words now. I think we found some sort of comfort and ease with other people’s feelings.

Later, the scene got interesting. People started to post status like “I’m never going to eat KFC again.” At the same time, I realized that was probably the only thing we knew about Kentucky. I remember hearing someone ask “where is Kentucky” during the game.

About an hour after the game ended: “The road has ended but u guys r always our heroes,” “Still proud to be a badger,” “See you next year.” This reminded me of what my TA once said about the “Midwestern mentality” — we are just glad that we’ve made it so far even if we don’t win. “We are such pessimistic people.” I almost started to say, “we had a perfect day for it, and we had a great game.”

What surprised me is how this game brought people together. On the university main website, the only news for the past week had been about the Final Four game.

We all had a unified identity — Badgers, no matter of age, race, gender or class. My Chinese friends participated in the entire event and felt the same anxiety as all American students did, even though many of us were not interested in sports beforehand.

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The news about Chinese ships reported the third signal that was possible from MH370 came out around the same time as the game ended. It had hardly any effect on Chinese students studying at UW-Madison, contrasting to a few weeks ago when many of them gave much attention to it. This once again proved the importance of proximity of news — they are in Madison and the game was the only thing they cared the most for the night.

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I feel a little ashamed to say this was my first time watching men’s basketball game for the Badgers, but I don’t resent it. I was glad that I was there until the end. No matter losing or winning, I’m proud to be a badger.

We imagined what it would be like in Texas and Kentucky. Here in Madison, Wis., we had a silent night in our hearts.

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