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There is a generational gap in the Indiana fan base

College SportsCollege BasketballIndiana UniversityBasketballIndiana HoosiersBranch McCracken

There is a growing disconnect within the IU basketball community. Countless IU media members and long time supporters believe there is no reason to be overly excited about a team in the early stages of a long season. A similar belief by veteran IU fans would prohibit court rushing in almost every situation. The current student contingent is already dreaming of a tournament appearance and gearing up for court flooding in the coming months. The never ending discussions on student attendance at games and structure of the GA section are picking up steam.

I think some of these arguments and how this version of IU basketball is viewed comes down to generational and geographical differences. Most of the traditionalist views originate from people who have covered IU while the team was winning or grew up watching and learning about the enormous success the program has achieved (many living in Indiana). The other viewpoint (we’ll call it new age) consists of mostly students who have not been raised with their parents putting them to sleep with stories of Branch McCracken.

Lets play a little devil’s advocate and look at today’s version of the team from a new age and traditionalist viewpoint. To be fair, take this with a grain of salt because I come from one side of the debate. I hail from Southern California and before deciding to attend Indiana University, only knew the Hoosier basketball basics. However, in my fourth year covering the team, I can see both sides have valid arguments.

IU has started 2011 with eight consecutive victories including a tough game in the B1G/ACC challenge and a decisive victory over Butler at home. They have not been perfect, but have handled most of their opponents easily in large part to the stellar play of Cody Zeller. The freshman has helped elevate the Hoosiers to the next level. Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey have made enormous strides while Jordan Hulls has continued to be a leader on and off the floor. This comes after Big Ten finishes of 11th, 9th, and 11th the last three years. The Hoosiers combined record was 28-66 over that span. Seniors have gone through one of the worst stretches in IU basketball history and endured an endless rebuilding effort only to see Cody Zeller and “The Movement” entering Bloomington as they exit. New Age

You ask why these fans are getting so excited after a perfect start and why they want to rush the court after a big win? A winning percentage under 50 is your answer.

The only Hoosier basketball current student-fans know is losing, losing, and more losing. Some fans have not used their general admission tickets making the student section look empty at times. On the other hand, how many schools would have the continued support of the entire campus while falling from grace and failing for three consecutive seasons? There are always plenty of students in the balcony that are not given the opportunity to move down and fill up the student section. Add that to the Camp Crean debacle and it becomes difficult to place blame on student fans.

Traditional

IU is one of the mammoth figures in the history of college basketball. Five national championships, eight final four appearances, an undefeated season, and arguably the most famous coach in all of sports are evidence that Indiana has been “there” before. Yes, students who are graduating this year have had it rough, but they still have an obligation to uphold the rich history of the school. If those standards of excellence are not enforced by future generations, everything anyone wearing the candy stripes has ever worked for will be lost.

It may be fun to rush the court, but IU basketball is better then that, unless it is a TRUE upset. As for the issues with the GA section, there should be no excuses. Every student with a ticket should show up or give their ticket to someone that will. It is the duty of the current students to make Assembly Hall loud and disruptive for the opposing team. A less then totally full student section is a failure.

Outcome

Those are some general feelings that I have gauged from the two sides over the course of this season. Here comes the part where I have to say something the traditionalists will hate. This is not your team. In the MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL, and every other professional league, the teams belong to their fans and the city. In my opinion, college sports teams belong to the students of the university.

Yes, you will be a Hoosier for life once you leave and maybe you will attend every tournament they make for the rest of your life. Still, the current students are the driving force behind any college athletic program.

As you can see, I am siding with the new age viewpoint. Students have made their way to Assembly Hall for three years knowing most of the time the result would be a big fat L. They still showed up in crowds that made schools with twice the amount of wins look puny. If you want the GA section filled, do something to allow balcony ticket holders in at halftime. These fans should have no ill feelings about rushing the court after a big win, whether the traditionalists think it’s worthy or not.

Bob Knight may frown on it, but Bob Knight would frown on the Big Heads too. Bob Knight would not run into a mob of Hoosier fans and scream at the top of his lungs as Tom Crean did last year. BOBBY KNIGHT IS GONE AND HE’S NOT COMING BACK. There’s no point in acting like IU has been competing for national championships. The reset button has been pressed. IU history remains and is an integral part of the IU basketball experience, but this team belongs to this set of students. They don’t know what winning feels like, so let them enjoy it.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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