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I’ll Have An Interest If I Wish

Washington — I’ve been accused of being a homer for picking Kansas in my NCAA bracket, to which I reply, so what? If loving the Jayhawks is wrong, I don’t want to be right. It’s also part of my bracket shtick: Tony Kornheiser had his swami hat; I have KU, perennially. I also have admitted — in writing — that I am incapable of picking anyone to beat them. It’s a weakness I freely own.

Perhaps journalists have a different definition of “homer,” but in our world it’s a writer or columnist who root-root-roots for the home team. Kansas is not the home team. Kansas is 1,500 miles away. For me to be a homer, I’d have to root for Maryland, Georgetown, George Mason, George Washington, etc., etc. Those biases would affect my work.

Over my 30 years in sports journalism, my enthusiasm for certain players, teams, even sports has taken a lot of hits. You find out a player you always admired is a womanizer. (This happened early in my career; by the time Tiger Woods’ indiscretions were revealed, I was hard to shock.) You watch a team you love make boneheaded moves. You just tire of the same old-same old. And sports is a job as much as a hobby or an avocation. It’s a great job, but it’s a job nonetheless. That’s why I don’t spend my vacations going to ballgames.

And that’s why I categorically refuse to give up my Jayhawks. I spent five years in Lawrence, getting two degrees, covering a lot of sports and seeing a lot of losing. I’ve been a KU fan since I was 6, and I’m not going to stop at 60 or 106.

The Washington Post doesn’t cover Kansas. I am seldom called upon to comment on my alma mater. If Kansas was coming to Verizon Center next week, I would not accept a credential to cover a game. I am unable to sit on press row when KU is playing. I am unable to sit with other humans when KU is playing. Accept your weaknesses. We all have them.

“Homer” is one of those words people throw at you when what they want to say is, “I disagree with you, but I must insult you rather than simply say, ‘I disagree with you.’ ” For instance, I’ve been accused of being “in the tank” for the Redskins and owner Daniel Snyder because I wanted them to fight the NFL on their salary cap hit. And yet, here is an exact transcript of my two encounters with Snyder, over the course of my 20 years at The Post:

Me: Hello. Snyder: Hello.

And then the second meeting:

Me: Hello. Snyder: Hello.

It’s hard, when you meet athletes and coaches, not to develop likes and dislikes. You try to keep those to a minimum. We’re human, though. Biases are hard to avoid; just own ‘em.

And I own mine. I have one team left on my list, one “franchise” that has seldom let me down and that I will never give up on. It’s the Jayhawks. I’m not going to apologize for it. If that makes me a homer, so be it.