In Indiana, basketball is king. It’s a cult-like culture that’s cultivated at a young age. You can see it starting with young kids playing in driveways, all with the hopes of playing for their local high schools or maybe even in college.
I grew up in this environment; my high school is home to the world’s largest high school fieldhouse. And I love basketball. I’m used to seeing the die-hard fans pack the fieldhouse and cheer on their team as loudly and boisterously as humanly possible. I’m also not a stranger to seeing these fans react negatively and harshly to the referees or opponents when things don’t seem to be going their way. They’re fan(atic)s. It’s not surprising.
The cult-ish fandom that I’ve described above only gets even more fanatic when you get to the level of Hoosier basketball. And now that IU is ranked #1 in the land after a few extremely difficult years (thanks in large part to sanctions from Coach Sampson’s short tenure), the fanatical fervor that is IU Basketball has returned full force.
I was an an Indiana University Hoosiers basketball game a few nights ago with some friends that had gone to undergrad there. It’s always fun to go to the games, especially when the team has the kind of talent that they do. But it was an early season game, and the competition was not up to the task of taking on the #1 Hoosier team. The final score was 99-45. Ouch. That’s not even competitive.
But what bothered me a little bit was the fans at the end of the game. As Sam Houston State was trying to dial it down and just simply dribble out the last bit of the game – a game in which they had been thoroughly shellacked – the IU fans did not relent. They chanted “One more point” and booed the opposing team for holding the ball to finish off the game. This was not a spattering of boos, this was raucous. And just before that, they let a couple of SHSU players hear it as they fouled out of the game by chanting “Left, right, left, right, SIT DOWN!” as they each headed to the bench. This is custom for IU fans to do to opposing players during the game, but in this game in the final minutes of a dramatic beat down, it just didn’t seem necessary or appropriate. In fact, it seemed to lack some class.
Again, I’m from Indiana and I grew up watching and playing for a high school where fans routinely did these kinds of things; it’s not new to me. I know that it’s sometimes difficult to put fans and class or tact in the same sentence, especially when it comes to Indiana fans and their basketball. But beating a team by 54 points and then proceeding to boo them out of the arena…in a game that was clearly over within the first 10 minutes of the first half…that just doesn’t seem right to me.
Now to be fair, I will add that I don’t believe Coach Crean did anything wrong. He played a lot of players and went deep into the bench – it just happens that we have a deep bench and even our second unit was far better than any unit SHSU was able to put on the court. Crean couldn’t have done much differently, and I don’t think that he needed to. I also think that the fans wanted to top the 100 mark (in fact, there was a QDoba promo if we had topped 100 points), but I don’t think that warranted the type of fan reaction that occurred.
For the fans to be that obnoxious made me a little bit uneasy to be an IU fan on that night. We are the same team that got run out of gyms just a few short years ago. I don’t know that other teams ever put it to us quite like that, and I don’t remember them booing us and kicking us while we were down. I hope that people haven’t completely forgotten those “dark years” now that we are successful. Let’s see if we can put tact and class in the same sentence with (Indiana) fan as we move forward this season. Let’s get back to the real task at hand, which is not to hang 100 points on a mediocre team, but to hang more banners in Assembly Hall. #iubb #themovement