Growing up in a Venezuelan household, the only sport I ever followed was soccer. Unfortunately, because the Venezuelan soccer team was average to say the least, I chose another team to root for, Brazil. Bandwagon? Yes. But do you expect a five year old kid to be loyal to his country's team even though they're bad? HELL NO!
I wanted to root for the best. I wanted to root for the Ronaldo's and Ronaldinho's of the world. Their style of play was different than every other team. It was fun, carefree yet precise. At the time, I couldn't find a word to describe the art form known as "joga bonito," but I loved it.
Once I moved to Miami I started learning about different sports. I liked the Heat because Alonzo Mourning reminded me of the Monstars from Space Jam. I also liked the Dolphins because my dad loved the Dolphins ever since he watched Marino throw a spiral....Thanks for that, dad, you really know how to pick em.
However, I wasn't as into other sports as I was with soccer; I wasn't hooked...yet.
In the fall of 2000 I got invited to my first college football game. The Miami Hurricanes were playing Virginia Tech at the Orange Bowl. I didn't know a single player's name on the team. All I knew was "Go Canes."
Two minutes into the game Ken Dorsey threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss...I was hooked.
I had never been in a louder environment in my life. I couldn't hear myself think. I would assume everyone would stop cheering and sit back down at some point, but it was as if they couldn't control themselves, it was a party. And not only were the fans a part of it, but the players were too.
Later in the game, Najeh Davenport broke out on a touchdown run that had me in shock. I was near the corner of the end zone watching as he zig zagged to the sideline and bolt out into a ridiculous breakaway. Once he dove near the pylon he put both his hands up and shook them as if he was shooting two pistols repeatedly. I had never seen anything as cool as what Davenport had done in that moment.
Miami bodied Virginia Tech. They destroyed Mike Vick. And they did it in the most electrifying, fun, dominant way possible. The Hurricanes became my new Brazil. And that word that I couldn't find to describe "joga bonito" was introduced to me by UM: "swag." That's why I became a Miami Hurricane.