Spain or the US? The Ever-Present Question.

I prefer here. I don’t want to admit it, especially on the Internet (what with its permanence and omnipresence), but it’s true. For most of the year, I live in Spain, in Europe. And I prefer it here.

Kaley Shades State Park

But I want to say something, and I want it to be crystal clear: I think that my preference is okay.

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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.

Welcome to the Midwest!

No, it’s not Mario’s first visit to the Midwest. He’s been here twice before. Nonetheless, he was introduced to some very American/Midwestern tradition: tailgating, football, and IU basketball.With our food: veggies/dip, cheese ball and crackers, cookies (peanut butter and chocolate chip), pork sandwiches, etc.

Crazy hair. I know.

No, we didn’t win. But who cares about football (or, as Mario calls it, American rugby)?

We later went to the annual Cream vs. Crimson scrimmage, which was way more fun to watch. After all, we are a basketball state – always have been, always will be.