Last week I met a current IU freshman who lives in my old dorm, Read. It was great to talk to someone who was living where I once lived and getting to experience IU as I once did, lo these many years ago.
It made me instantly nostalgic for Bloomington, for the days before I knew what “lactose intolerant” meant, when all I knew was Mad Mushroom Cheese Sticks, for the days of $.99 beer of the month at Mother Bear’s (I’d like to know what they are up to now. If someone knows, please put it in the comment thread), for afternoon naps in the fireplace lounge (none of which were planned, as you all well know), for the Irish Lion, mutton pie, puff balls, half yards of Guiness, but most of all for trips to Assembly Hall for IU basketball games.
I snapped out of my mid-day wool gathering just in time to ask him, before he walked off, if he had season tickets to the IU games.
You know what he said to me?
“No, we suck this year. Our whole team is made up of freshmen.”
I grabbed his arm at the elbow as he was turning to walk away (the same action that got Bob Knight fired, btw) and said, “Hey, that’s not important. Your team needs you in the stands. Go get tickets. Hell, have your parents pay for them.”
He gave me some nonsense about the expense of out-of-state tuition and fiscal responsibility, blah, blah, blah.
Then I hear that they are dropping the prices for balcony tickets to $5.
This is, I think, what bothers me most about what’s going on this year. I knew going in we were not going to have a great team, I knew we were going to have to improve a lot to win many games, what I didn’t expect was that we had so many fair weather fans.
Here comes the “in my day” rant.
When I was at IU ’95-’98. We didn’t win a Big Ten title. We didn’t win an NCAA game. It was a low point for IU basketball (not by today’s standards, but I had very recent memories of Alan Henderson, Calbert Chaeney, Greg Graham, Pat Graham, Damon Bailey, Lyndon Jones, Chris Reynolds, and Old-Man Anderson. My childhood was built around Isaiah Thomas, Uwe Blab, Steve Alford, Steve Eyl, Joe Hillman, Keith Smart, Dean Garrett, Ricky Calloway, Brian Sloan, Kreigh Smith. We still packed Assembly Hall. Andre Patterson and Charlie Miller, and even The Neck, deserved and got our support just as much as those other teams. And they got it.
If you live within an hour of Bloomington and you used to go the games and you’ve stopped, shame on you.
If you’re a student and you didn’t bother to get season tickets because the team wasn’t going to be any good, well, hell I don’t even want to know you. You are a Hoosier. You are not some ass backwards Kentucky fan. You don’t support your team cause there’s nothing else to do on a Wednesday night.
IU fans are better than that. At least that’s what I’ve always believed. God knows that’s what I’m going to teach my kids (calm down mom, I’m not making any announcements here).
Get your ass out there and support this team. It’s how we act when things aren’t going well that defines who we are.
Be better than this.