In 49 States, It’s Just Basketball…

But this is Indiana.

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Darren Cummings / AP

I once wrote an entry about the things I’ve had to explain to Mario. It included things like tailgating, “that guy,” and 4-H.

There are plenty of Spanish concepts that Mario’s had to explain to me – la matanza, “¿Quién es la última?”, wedding etiquette, how Spanish high schools used to be structured, and why Spanish women are so intent that I not catch a cold.

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One thing he never had to explain was soccer. It was obvious.

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In some ways, I hope that basketball is the same for him. Hoosier basketball, that is. Is there any other kind?

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When you grow up in Indiana…

  • Football is fine, baseball’s okay, but basketball’s king.
  • The movie Hoosiers is mandatory viewing.
  • People like to complain about the good old days, before class basketball.
  • There are high school gyms that seat over 9,000 people. High school.
  • James Naismith said Indiana’s the center of basketball and you know, without a doubt, that it’s true.
  • There are two seasons in Indiana. They are basketball season and getting ready for basketball season.
  • Players cite their reasons for coming to IU as “This is Indiana.” As they say in Spanish: “Y punto.”
  • You may not like sports, but you have to appreciate the magic in the atmosphere, the feeling that anything is possible, that hard work can get you anywhere – even to a national championship.

When I first informed Mario that people in my state like college ball better than professional, he was surprised – I mean, isn’t the level higher at the professional level? And obviously it is. That’s why they’re the pros.

But what he came to learn (what we all come to learn here) is that there is nothing like the cream and crimson, the squeak of shoes on the court, screaming your fight song, watching the last minute three-pointer fall softly in the net, rushing the court with 30,000 of your closest friends…

In short, there’s nothing like IU.

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Truth.

Disclaimer: I may be a bit biased.

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16 comments

  1. One thing I never understand. ButI come from football land (my high school football team has been champs eight times since I started high school in 99), and couldn’t choose to go to IU because they didn’t have a great football team. But I’l let you have your cake…

  2. The IU-Kentucky game reflects perfectly the phrase “This is Indiana”. I wish I had seen the game life and been able to jump to the court after the buzzer beater.

  3. You forgot that the preeminent college basketball coach (maybe basketball coach ever) is from Indiana! But he defected to a sunnier, warmer state.

    Seriously, I was so sad when John Wooden died. I still remember the days I’d go to UCLA games and would see him sitting across from the student section.

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