After watching the Michigan basketball
team’s most recent collapse at Iowa on Saturday, I forced
myself to get my mind off the program. It wasn’t healthy to
yell that much at the TV. The best way for me to get my mind off
what’s bugging me is to think about my childhood — back
when things were much simpler, more black and white.

Julie Pannuto

So, I started thinking about the first time my parents took my
brother and me to Universal Studios Hollywood. This was safe. There
is no way thinking about that day could ever make me think of
Michigan hoops, right?

It turned out to be one of the best days of my life. We rode the
rides all day, saw the shows and had lunch. At the end of the day,
my dad even bought me a souvenir hat. It was black, and said
Universal Studios across the front.

I remember wearing it all the time. I would not take it off, and
I protected it like it was made of gold.

At home it was easy to keep it safe. Within the Sikora
household, everyone was happy to see me wearing it. Sometimes they
would even cheer me on.

Occasionally, people would come over, and I had to be careful
that they didn’t take the hat. I kept it close to me, never
taking it off or taking my eye off these intruders. At any moment,
they could try and take it from me.

But since this was my house, it was easy for me to protect my
hat, and these people were intimidated to take it because of the
support I had at home.

But outside the house, it was a completely different story. I
didn’t have the support of my family. I was no longer within
those protective walls or that comfort zone that I was used to. I
had to be extra careful when wearing the hat outside because
anything could take it away from me. A robber, a jealous friend, or
even a strong gust of wind could whisk it away in the blink of an
eye. Then I would be left with nothing.

Of course, I loved that hat, and knowing that wearing it out was
so dangerous, I was extremely careful with it. Sometimes I even
used two hands to hold it, just to be safe.

When I went to a friend’s house for a party, everyone eyed
my hat like they needed it. One person even asked if he could try
it on. But it was mine, and I wasn’t going to give it up so
foolishly, especially away from home. If this guy wanted it, he had
to take it away from me, or foul me — I mean hurt me

That hat was the key to my happiness. When I was wearing it, I
was confident and under control. I was a winner.

At this point, I realized that I had failed to get my mind off
the basketball team. The reason the story of my hat popped into my
mind at that moment was because I was frustrated that Michigan
didn’t value the basketball on the road like I valued my hat
as a child.

The Wolverines committed 21 turnovers at Iowa and 19 at
Minnesota, both games in which these careless giveaways were the
difference between winning and losing. Prior to these games, the
Wolverines had averaged 15 turnovers per game this season.

Maybe it is youth, maybe it is inexperience, or maybe it is
overconfidence. But even as children, we all know the importance of
keeping our precious toys, or hats, safe.

Michigan should think back to how they protected those childhood
hats, and treat the basketball the same way.

And if you didn’t have a hat, sorry. But you can’t
have mine.

Naweed Sikora would like to have an “NCAA
Tournament” hat. He can be reached at

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