The Hoosiers went 1-17 in Big Ten play this season. I watched about five minutes of it. Does that make me a bad fan? I watch every Colts game no matter how bad the team is. There are only 16 games a year so I figure it would be lame to miss one. But I have different rules for other sports.
With the Cincinnati Reds, I usually cash my chips around July 1st. It’s just too hard to watch bad, losing baseball. Before my NBA-officials-and-David Stern induced nervous breakdown in the 2004 Eastern Conference Finals I watched about 75 Pacers games a season in their entirety. I actually swore off the team before the Palace brawl. I haven’t watched more than 45 minutes of the Pacers over the past two or three seasons. Am I a fair-weather fan? I don’t know. I’d say it’s more accurate to call me a former Pacers fan. The Pacers don’t entertain me anymore. I don’t feel connected to the players or coaches. The NBA bores the hell out of me, and it has for most of this decade. Reggie Miller and company made the league tolerable and even enjoyable.
The Indiana Hoosiers are different. To me they aren’t about one player, one coach, or one era. I just love the program. I watch every game whether the coach is Mike Davis or a lame-duck Kelvin Sampson. I just couldn’t do it this year. I love Tom Crean and I’m excited about the future. I love the idea of having a team with 10 freshmen. It would make a good movie. But then it came time to actually watch the team play. I watched most of the non-conference games. They looked good at times and terrible at other times. They played very hard against a top-ten Gonzaga team at Lucas Oil. But they finished the non-conference by losing at home to Northeastern and Lipscomb. Read that last sentence again. They weren’t getting better. They were getting worse. They were horrible. As a result, I didn’t watch more than a few minutes of Big Ten play. It would have just made me angry and resulted in scared children and broken remote controls.
Am I surprised with the results? No. The roster had one returning player and 10 freshmen. Most of the players were signed just last summer. This team had no business being good. Am I proud of the team? Sure. They were in a tough spot. They went into the past 18 games knowing the other team was vastly more talented. (And that includes games against Northwestern.) Still, it is hard to be a feel good story when you go 6-25 on the season. I think ten wins was the threshold for true fan excitement. They didn’t get close.
All this to say that I miss basketball. I miss it bad. Indiana fans (of the Pacers and Hoosiers) deserve much better. When Purdue basketball is dominating the local headlines something has gone terribly wrong. It makes me sick. Hopefully Danny Granger and Tom Crean will deliver for us over the coming years. I just want a reason to watch.