A couple days ago a blog entry entitled “Are You Strong Enough to Be Our Fan?” made its way around the internet. The premise is that it takes a great deal of intestinal fortitude to be a fan of the most successful program in college football (Alabama), because with that success comes so many heavy doses of Haterade from opposing fans. Gotta have a suit of shining armor if you’re gonna roll with the Tide, y’all.
I decided to try my hand at doing the same thing with my alma mater’s football program.
So without further ado:
“Are You Strong Enough to Be An Indiana Football Fan?”
What if I told you your favorite college football team would accomplish this over a five-season stretch:
- A 19-41 record under two head coaches with records of 9-23 and 10-18, being outscored by opponents 2,099-1,695.
- Thrice allow an opponent to score more than 60 points in a game, including twice to Wisconsin.
- Allow 83 points in a single football game.
- Zero award winners.
- Zero conference championships.
- Zero bowl games.
- One second-round NFL Draft pick and five draft picks overall.
- One former player arrested for armed robbery.
Would you take it? Would you go to battle with these kids? (Hopefully you said “Yes” to the last one on this list, because he’s at least got the tools for battle).
Now what if I told you with all of the above comes this:
- Ignorance. Not ordinary, run-of-the-mill ignorance. People actually asking you “Oh, Indiana has a football team?”
- Raging indifference. Not every program can have the luck of going 19-41 with no one even caring.
- Listening to laughter from opposing fans because at an average of 8.2 times in each of those five seasons their team found a way to beat you.
Would you still take it? Would you still go to battle with these kids?
Are you strong enough to endure all that? If you knew going in that you could have everything on the first list, but had to deal with everything on the second list, would you do it? Would it be worth it? Could you pick yourself up and dust yourself off those 41 times while having to defend some of the worst players to ever play college football for 41…FORTY-ONE…transgressions in five seasons?
The lack of success is beyond mind-numbing. It is pure, deep, haunting depression. I would not trade it for anything, except for tickets to the goddamn Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl. But there is truth to the statement “It is lonely in the gutter.” Even the tiniest crack in the armor is a chance for more Wisconsin touchdowns to pour in. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the weak-minded. It is enough to destroy the spirit of even the strongest among us.
Sure, it would be easy to be a fan of a team that gets excited to win 11 or 12 games a year. It might even be enjoyable to be a fan of a team that doesn’t lose to someone from the MAC every year, or has beaten Michigan or Ohio State sometime after 1988. When someone hears you are a fan of one of those teams they say “Oh, that’s cool.”
When you say you are a fan of this team I have described, they will judge you. They will question your ability to make a sound decision (quite correctly, I may add). They will laugh at you for even being associated with this team. They may even walk away in fits of laughter. That’s mockery, and you are going to feel it. It is going to hurt. It is going to make you do a keg stand and forget to even go into the stadium. It is going to make you sadder than Eeyore because you know the truth — they absolutely should be laughing at you.
You might even want to punch someone or something. But really you should have another cocktail that’s 90 percent Dark Eyes Vodka and 10 percent Sprite. You have to accept it, endure it, not flinch, hold your head high, smile through the pain you are anguishing through inside and simply say “Hoo-Hoo-Hoo-Hoosiers!”
So tell me. Are you strong enough to be an IU football fan?