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Reading dystopian YA novels prepared me for the demise of the Pac-12

This is my Hunger Games.

Ashley Davis

One thing I’ve noticed about my childhood and the current state of the Pac-12 is they have one key pillar in common: the things I was reading (books, news) were happening in worlds that felt real to me, but also made no sense.

There’s going to be a lot of words circulating the internet the next few days or weeks; some kind, some hopeful, some filled with bite. A lot of people are talking and writing and commiserating, and attempting to put a new spin on a tragic story that’s captivating our timelines and our thoughts.

I grew up with Katniss Everdeen, Percy Jackson, Tris Prior, and more. I watched them all go through what really is the same plot in different fonts over and over again: sassy and inappropriately young for the situation they’re currently thrust into Main Character is assigned a task, quest, or battle format that they are to dive straight into, either with no help from an actual authority figure, or help from a drunken wiseass who has “been around the block”.

Doesn’t that sound exactly like what’s going on in our conference? I think it does.

The fans and the players are the heroes, and right now we’re at the start of training. Some of us are actually training for battle, and I say battle because there is no sum of money you could offer me that would make me sign up to have a 6’3”, 200lb man running at me full force, regardless of what kind of padding I am offered! No thank you!!

The market executives and guys who wear expensive suits and watches to overcompensate for their own insecurities are the villains! The President Snows, the Erudite faction, the creatures from the myths that a 12 year old demigod must kill in an amusing and non-traumatizing way.

Are you following?

These books offered a lot of unrealistic expectations for how my teenage years would go. At no point did I find out my father wasn’t my father, and I was actually an offspring of a Greek God, and I would now have to go on quests with my best friends (one of whom, apparently, is half goat).
Nor did I draw my name out of a large globe, under the guidance of an eccentrically dressed woman, and have to go into a cornucopia of chaos, fall in love with a guy who baked bread down the road from me my whole life, OR be sorted into a fifth, secret faction, and have to save the world.

I have done no world saving, as it turns out.

The events in these books are meant to be entertaining, and also somewhat metaphoric that with the right attitude and the right friends, any kid can whether any storm the world throws them.

If I were writing this dystopian novel, the one we’re living through right now (re: conference realignment), we’d be on the precipice of the breakthrough. Our world is crumbling. The Pac-12 has crumbled. The Minotaur escaped, Snow rigged the games, and to be honest I don’t remember Divergent well enough to reference the point in the book/movie where it looks like the villain is going to win (although Kate Winslet plays her, I remember that much).

Many of these books carry the promise of the hero becoming a legend. But we already have legends.

In my dream, in my book that I’m writing now, we go into battle. We fight for our territory or homeland or whatever, and we win! The suits fail! Parades are thrown in our honor! Debt is gone! You get a car, and you get a car, everybody gets a car!!!

Nobody is getting a car. Not in real life, anyway.

The unfortunate lesson that has been so blatantly shoved down everybody's throats for the past few years is: it is incredibly difficult to live through major events! I am more sympathetic towards Katniss Everdeen than I have ever been in my life, because I wake up every single day and more things keep happening. Just once, I would like to wake up in the world of Gilmore girls or any other sitcom were nothing happens.

So go ahead, Conference Executives. Hit me with your best shot. I grew up reading chaos, I’ve lived in chaos, and you can put me in that cornucopia if you want, but just know this:

I am not a fighter and it will not be very entertaining.

But I know people who are better at the fighting and I can be VERY mean when rooting them on.

Especially the ones with a large wild cat for a mascot. Go Cougs.