April 22, 2010

Living in the Shadow of the Sports Bubble

When I was growing up in Northwest Indiana, I was never really exposed to Indianapolis (or any Indiana, for that matter) news or sports. I knew what the Indy500 was, and I knew the Bulls played the Pacers every so often...But I never knew the governor (even until I moved to Indianapolis two years ago), or what the hell a Hoosier was. I lived within the range of Chicago's overpowering broadcast system, in "Da Region", if you've heard of it. Once I joined the ranks of a mid- to lower-level collegiate sports program, I discovered this whole new world (unfortunately not on a magic carpet...) of sports and back burner - if that's even as far up as we get - importance.

The media, of course, is the main culprit behind this relegation to seemingly nothingness.
The Colts are THE talk of the town. Always. Forever. Well, since Peyton showed up. Rightfully so, I suppose: They have the best record of any decade ever; They haven't won less than so many games since he arrived, et cetera. They can do no wrong. Even losing the Super Bowl was an amazing accomplishment. On game day, downtown IS blue. I mean BLUE. BLUE as BLUE can get. If someone isn't wearing a jersey (which is rare), they have a blue ribbon in their hair or blue sneakers on. There's always something. (Even the fountain downtown has blue lights that shine on game night.)
The Pacers are there, but because they haven't been good in...a long time...they are on a back seat journey through the media world. However, they are never talked THAT negatively about. In fact there is an article up right now on Indy Star that says the Pacers should take care of their business without involving the public as much as possible. Eventually, once football season is over, the Pacers are still in the back seat but their head sticks between the seats so they can talk to Mommy and Daddy Colts. A win over the Celtics is met with cautious praise, usually because it's followed or preceded by giving up a 27-point lead to the Knicks or someone equally as terrible. But those terrible losses are never met with any anger on the side of the fans. Disappointment, sure. But I've never heard a single Pacers fan get MAD. Just...indifferent, saying one day things will get better because, after all, this is the club Reggie Miller built! Even with names like Brandon Rush, Danny Granger, and Tyler Hansbrough the Pacers still have trouble getting any sort of decent buzz on way or another.
Then come the universities of central Indiana. The famed Indiana University and Purdue University. (Oh, I know there are more than those two. But listening to any sports station would lead you to believe differently.) These two schools are more "entitled" than the kids on "My Sweet 16" or "The Hills". I actually heard a group of IU fans talking downtown during the Big10 Tournament that, get this, if they were to win the tournament they could expect a good seed (eventually discussed to be an 8 or 7 seed), and if they lost an NIT bid was obvious. Yes, the 10-21 (4-14) Hoosiers of Indiana University have fans with their heads so far up their...well, in the sand...that they actually believed they could secure either a high seed or a bid to any post-season tournament. (This idea doesn't pertain to all IU fans, but when I told a few friends down at IU what I had heard, they weren't exactly opposed to the idea...) Purdue fans are a little better, just now re-acclimating themselves to success. Most are fairly decent about what goes on, but even without their star player (and I mean STAR player) Robbie Hummel - who I've watched for 5 years, both against my own high school and for Purdue - they were convinced a Final Four birth was inevitable. When they were knocked out of the tournament, Purdue fans everywhere were beyond confused and made their feelings quite apparent.
Butler, sweet dear Butler, is only now getting some semblance of recognition. While TROUNCING their Horizon competition (by 10+ points per game), the local stations and news coverage would simply mention "Hey Butler won" and move on. If you go to the Indy Star website, their sports section has links to Colts, Pacers, IU, Purdue, and high school prep pages, but NOT Butler. Not little 'ol Butler. And true, there was talk around Indy during the Final Four of the "City turning Blue for Butler" and what have you, but after they lost, where did all of those fans go? Back home...wearing their IU this, their Purdue that, or their Colts something-or-other.
IUPUI is seen on the same level as Butler...pah! Who am I kidding. They aren't seen on any level. They are nothing. The occasional write up is done on Ron Hunter's work with Samaritan's Feet, but besides that the only write ups all season were following games at Conseco Fieldhouse (home of the Pacers) and while IUPUI played in the post-season. IUPUI is, quite literally, in the shadow of Lucas Oil Stadium. It is even visible from the far Northwest corner of campus, Ball Hall (our one and only residence dormitory on campus). I called in to 1070 The Fan one time to ask the "radio hosts" what they thought of an IUPUI player suiting up for the Pacers. They said "well all of the camps are open to anyone who thinks they are good enough to play", followed by muffled snickers.

What does all of this mean though? Doesn't it make sense the city's most successful program be on the tip of everyone's tongues? What about IU and Purdue?
CBI to watch IUPUI because, well, they were supposed to win...but how many will come next year? The Pacers and Indians wrangle people in during stretches of good fortune, but have trouble getting die hard (or even die soft) fanatics. IU and Purdue fans aren't fanatics, they are just slaves to the machines that are Big10 propaganda and power. There are students from each school who don't even know IUPUI exists. There are students at Butler who don't even know IUPUI exists. (It sounds like a hyperbole, but I can't make this up folks.)

Are there exceptions to each rule? Totally. There are a few Colts-cars that drive around, completely decked out in white horseshoes. There is a barn near my apartment that is completely covered in Pacers artwork. There are season ticket holders for IUPUI and Butler, even for the Pacers and Indians. But all in all, the number of people who really care about sports is slim at best.

IUPUI is truly living in the dark, cold, gloomy shadow of the Sports Bubble, and there's no getting out. Any story line of mid-major success has gone to Butler (rightfully so, don't get me wrong). Baseball fans, the best and most loyal fans in sports, are seemingly absent from the MLB-less city. Every day that goes by that the Colts control the media (both literally and figuratively), IUPUI suffers. And there's no getting out. There's no escape. Even members of the Red Zone, IUPUI's own student section, show up in Duke or Ohio State shirts. There are nearly (literally) no TRUE IUPUI fans, and the bubble created by the Colts, Pacers (ish), Hoosiers, and Boilermakers - and the media fawning over them - has created an impenetrable bubble.
(I must make a note here: I was raised a Michigan fan, and I will always be a Michigan fan...But it never interferes with my love and devotion for IUPUI like so many others feelings for the Jaguars. I don't root for IU transfers against IUPUI when they play for Ohio, I don't root against IUPUI when they play IU, et cetera.)

Every day I come to campus, I drive by Lucas Oil Stadium. I thank it, sarcasticly, for creating struggle that I will never win.


  1. It also doesn't help that IUPUI athletics don't know how to follow rules.

  2. Indiana= 5 National Championships
    Purdue= 22 Big Ten Titles

    I'd say they earned it.

    IUPUI can't even beat their conference opponents why should they be catapulted to the spotlight, so we can highlight such losses as IPFW

  3. Yeah, IU and Purdue have earned their due, but the athletics program at IUPUI should be able to get more coverage by the Indianapolis media. We only get a few inches when our team runs a train on someone, but IU gets damn near a full page for a loss to a D-1 team. Is that fair? Media in the area caters to the black and gold and the cream and crimson while the downtown campus is still stuck on the outside looking in. Some outlets almost completely fail to recognize the accomplishments of the student-athletes here because we're not a blue-chip school.

    By the way, don't say anything about breaking the rules without throwing Sampson's names in there. The IU Athletics Department knew exactly what they were doing when they hired him. The violations here we made by an academic advisor who has been released after an investigation by the school. Don't be mad at IUPUI simply because they were caught. I'm pretty sure you'd be surprised at the number of miscalculations and "clerical errors" at any of the Big 6 schools. We were doing stuff that lots of other schools are doing, but we just got caught.

  4. The IUPUI men's basketball team only lost to 3 conference teams this year. Their conference record this season was 15-3, second best to only Oakland.

    I agree with ya Michael. Even though IU had some ridiculously miserable record, they STILL had more media notice than we did with our 25-11 record. Doesn't make sense, but maybe we should find a way to get ourselves noticed. There has be to a way.

    I think it's a shame that half the people in the city don't even know what IUPUI stands for or where it's located. It's not that they don't deserve even a sliver of the spotlight...no one knows us well enough for us to ever have a chance.

  5. Butler is a Mid-Major school. They are recognized. The issue is that they run the table or lose one game in the conference and beat good teams in a non-conference schedule. IUPUI can't beat the decent schools in their non-conference schedule.

  6. IUPUI is a fun school strictly because you can know the players and they can know you on a first name basis. other than that I don't expect to ever get recognized for any type of athletic consideration. Unfortunately we cannot beat teams of a higher caliber than that of our own conference, and we barely do that I might add. If we would have beat Oakland, we would have been left as sorry as they were sitting at home after the first round. It is sad, because talent such as Robert Glenn, and Alex Young who were both top 25 in scoring in the nation go unnoticed. It isn't really unfair though, considering do we need to be put on a pedastal for beating teams like UMKC? The IUPUI women's soccer team won the Summit League, and made it to the NCAA tourney where they were blanked by Notre Dame, it's just not worth it, until we can prove we can hang with the big schools, just let it go. On the other hand, I think a schedule made up where Butler and IUPUI play eachother each year, like a cross town rivalry would be excellent. I don't care about extra publicity, despite Ron Hunter's barefeet, I just like having fun supporting my school.

  7. IUPUI is such a joke of a school. Why would anybody ever want to go to that god forsaken joke of a campus. I wonder why EVERY weekend i run into people on our campus (IU) who come down to party. Oh, thats right because THERES NOTHING TO DO at IUPUI. The majority of kids ive talked to say they hate it.

  8. IUPUI is a much better campus than IU. I specifically chose to not apply to IU (or Purdue) because both schools are breeding grounds for spoiled punks.

    But seriously, I get nauseous when I'm at IU. What makes anyone there think they're so entitled? Because their basketball team won forever ago?

    IUPUI is the same thing as both IU and Purdue without the cost. Anyone who says there's nothing to do obviously hasn't looked. If there was a dirt track closer to my apartment than Bloomington, or I didn't have friends at either school, I would literally NEVER go to either location. Take away a few people, and both places are black holes of boredom.

  9. I love Indiana University with all my heart, but IUPUI is hands down the best public university in Indiana. Get bent anonymous enjoy not getting any jobs, if you graduate, because an IUPUI student was flat out better on paper and in person.