Gonzaga, I’ve been told, will be playing in the Final Four on Saturday against South Carolina. Your team was eliminated a while ago, and you’re not sure who to root for. You had an ex named Caroline, so you can’t root for either of the Carolinas since the names are too close. You want to root for Oregon, but one time you got attacked by a duck so that’s out. That leaves Gonzaga, the funny-named team from… Iowa?
Wherever they’re from (Spokane, WA), you’re going to support them like they’re your own team. The only problem is, you have no idea how to do that. You don’t know how to Zag Up, nor Zag in any other direction. Don’t worry, you can trust my advice. I’m an Internet person, so I’m legit. Just follow these steps.
1. Wear Red And Blue. Lots of Red And Blue. Arguably Too Much Red And Blue.
If you’re going to convince your friends that you actually like the Zags and aren’t just a bandwagon fan hopping on at the last minute because Lord of the Numbers Nate Silver puts us at a pretty high percentage of winning the tourney, you’re going to need to buy some red and blue clothing.
If you’ve ever seen footage of The Kennel, Gonzaga’s student section, you’ll know that anyone who doesn’t wear red or blue stands out like Przemek Karnowski at a preschool, so go nuts with the colors. There’s no such thing as too much red or blue, so use this game as an excuse to drape yourself in an American flag like an Olympian or squeeze back into that Captain America costume you wore for Comic Con, you beautiful nerd.
2. Get The Pronunciation Down, For The Love Of God
Nightmare Scenario: Covered in red and blue, you somehow got into a Gonzaga alumni watch party at your local bar. Things are going swimmingly, and you’re starting to think that these guys actually think that you’re a diehard Gonzaga fan. Overcome with pride, you shout “I LOVE SPO-CANE, THE HOME OF GON-ZAW-GA UNIVERSITY! THAT PER-ZEMACK IS A REAL GOOD KID!” You’re booed so hard that the people next door automatically assume that someone switched songs in the middle of “Chandelier” by Sia.
Here’s a good article that sums up some key pronunciation you should know if you want to support the Zags. If you’re too lazy to click on the link, here are the three big ones:
How you think it’s pronounced: Gon-ZAWG-uh.
How it’s actually pronounced: Gon-ZAG-uh.
How to remember: As I’ve said many times in the past, it’s “Go Zags” not “Go Zawgs.”
How you think it’s pronounced: Spo-CANE.
How it’s actually pronounced: Spo-CAN.
How to remember: “I can’t believe people still Spo-Can’t pronounce the name of this city.”
How you think it’s pronounced: Let’s be honest, you have no idea.
How it’s actually pronounced: Shem-ick Kar-now-ski.
How to remember: Just call him “Big Guy” and you’ll be fine.
3. When You Finally Know The Pronunciation, Mercilessly Mock Those Who Don’t
Now that you’ve got the pronunciation down, you’re superior to 95% of the population who would rather Zawg than Zag. Oh ho, gaze upon those blind sheeple and be filled with such pride! They are peasants compared to you, a Divine Sage who has been gifted with clarity! You have been to the mountaintop and know the truth! Laugh at those foolish mortals, like a real Zag!
4. Get Excited Whenever You See A Nun At The Game
Alright, the game has been going pretty well but nothing major has happened. That’s when you see them. Sitting court side, lined up ever so perfectly, is a group of nuns. You didn’t know that this was a bucket list item until you actually saw it. Something about seeing the pristine dress of the nuns in contrast with the insanity of the fans of the Final Four gives you… excitement? Hope? Pride? Whatever it is, you love it and you love them.
5. At Halftime, Go Walk Around And Hold Doors Open For People
You can find a Zag in a crowd by looking for the guy who is holding the door open for strangers, sometimes at an uncomfortable distance. Nobody knows why all Gonzaga students do this, they just do. It’s actually annoying sometime. If you want to fit in with the Gonzaga community, just start holding doors open. Any door. You’ll be a true Zag in no time.
6. Mentally Prepare Yourself To Deal With The People Who Will Argue The Same Points With You Over And Over
If you’re going to be a Zag fan, you’re going to be irrationally hated by people who have seen half of one Gonzaga regular season game. You’re going to get the same stupid, typo-riddled arguments every time.
“Gonzaga’s road to the Final Four was too easy, they still haven’t played a real team yet in the tournament” (That’s not how single-elimination brackets work, you idiot.)
“The WCC isn’t even a real conference, they wouldn’t even make the tournament in [Insert Their Conference]” (Yes it is, and they’ve probably beaten teams from your conference, you idiot.)
“[Insert Their Team] would have easily beaten the Zawgs” (Maybe, but they didn’t, you idiot.)
“[Other Team We Played In The Tournament] should have won!” (Maybe, but they didn’t and you’re an idiot.)
Trust me, it gets really old really fast.
7. Jump A Lot, Sometimes For No Reason
Gonzaga’s student section is nothing if not jumpy. Embrace this tendency by jumping a lot whenever you can. Did we get an epic block? Jump. Did we dunk? Jump. You haven’t jumped in a few minutes? Jump.
It’s a great leg workout and makes you feel like a kangaroo, so it’s kind of a win/win.
8. If We Lose, Mumble “East Coast Bias” And “Damn Refs” To Yourself Until The Tears Stop
There’s nothing a real Zag loves more than blaming everything on East Coast Bias and the refs, so if we lose you should be ready to show how Zaggy you are by repeating those mantras on a cycle until the sadness is gone (never).
9. If (When) We Win, Riot Responsibly And Politely
If Gonzaga wins (knock on more wood), be ready to celebrate. This will be the first Final Four the school has ever been in, which means that it would also be the first championship game we’ve ever been in. You’re going to want to take to the streets and party, which you absolutely should. But if you want to really act like a Zag, you’ll do it safely and responsibly.
First of all, I am not saying you should ever do anything illegal, nor am I advocating for an actual riot. But people get excited, and I’d rather you riot responsibly. If you have to light a couch on fire, do it away from things that can burn and have a fire extinguisher nearby. March in the streets, but make sure to look both ways for traffic. Throw a rager, but hold the door open for the guests. You have many options.
And now you’re fully prepared to root for Gonzaga like you actually go there.
Go find a place to watch the game, go wild, and most importantly: Go Zags (not Zawgs).