The New York Times touts its Sunday Sports “Front Row” page as “about people for whom sports is a crucial part of their lives ; passionate fans, numbers crunchers, at-home commentators, web surfers.” In other words, persons who generally don’t make up a large portion of the paper’s readership nor are they likely targets of the Times’ advertisers. Hence, sneering at them is a-ok, as evidenced by Vincent M. Mallozzi’s visit to the orange and blue home of Richard Ohms, aka, “The Illini Guy”.
During the game, the Illini Guy refused to answer phone calls. Someone tried the doorbell, which plays the Illinois fight song, but the Illini Guy stuck with his Saturday game plan: watching Illinois basketball.
The next day, the Illini Guy felt well enough to talk about the loss, which dropped his team’s record to 15-1. He even managed to do a bit of laundry. “One load of blue clothes, one load of orange clothes,” he said.
For 20 years, the Illini Guy tailgated with friends and fellow fans under the same tree, preparing blue-and-orange deviled eggs for all homecoming games. In a will he has yet to write, the Illini Guy will express his desire to have his ashes scattered beneath that tree, his remains to fly as high above his favorite parking spot as the billowing smoke of grilled bratwurst and burgers.
“I spent some of the most enjoyable times of my life under that tree,” the Illini Guy said. “That’s where I’d like to spend all eternity.”
The Illini Guy has considered other aspects of death, too. He told family members that if they die during the Illinois football and basketball seasons, it should not be on a Wednesday or a Thursday.
“That would mean the wake would likely fall on a Saturday, and I’m not missing my games,” he said. “My father complied – he died in May.”
In May, of course, the basketball season is over. Which raised the question: What is the Illini Guy’s life like between the Illinois basketball and football seasons?
“During that time, there is really no meaning to my life,” he said.