Opening Day 04/05/2010Posted by sportretort in mlb, Sports.
Tags: baseball, chicago cubs, Eddie Vedder, mlb, Pearl Jam
add a comment
Baseball!! I found this via a Facebook friend linked from utube. It is Perfect, obviously, for Cub fans. But also for any baseball fan. I LOVE opening day. The Boys of Summer are BACK!!!
High Porch Picnic 03/28/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: basketball, bump elliott, coaching change, Fran McCaffery, gary barta, hayden fry lute olson, iowa basketball, iowa hawkeyes, ncaa basketball, sienna
1 comment so far An athletic director at a Big Ten institution was forced to fire his head coach after a short and unsuccessful stay. The coach in question was hired by the same AD who had hired him a few short years before. Though he had success at a lower level of the sport, he had never had a winning season, nor a winning conference record in the Big Ten. The AD now had a quandary. You see, his program was suffering through a terrible low point. The two previous coaches had been hired into the Big Ten from lower programs. They had suffered through short, unsuccessful terms at the institution. What to do now? You see the AD had found his candidate, again at a lower level. The new coach was hired, over the loud protestations of the fan base. Was the AD crazy? What the program needed was a name coach! Had we not just watched relative unknowns flounder? Surely, the AD must go. There is no way THIS guy was going to succeed where others had failed. Yep, that was the mood in Iowa City. The new head coach was from North Texas State. His name was Hayden Fry. The year was 1979. And the AD taking all the criticism was Bump Elliott. I know, because I was there. I first met coach Fry shortly after he was announced as Iowa’s new football coach. Say, Hawkeye fans. Turns out that bumbling AD knew what he was doing, after all. Things turned out pretty darn well for Iowa, coach Fry and Mr. Elliott. It was a leap of faith for Elliott. He had hired Fry after his first 2 coaches went down in flames. Remember Frank Lauterbur and Bob Commings? They were the Iowa coaches in the 8 seasons before Fry.
Fran McCaffery will be introduced Monday as Iowa’s next head basketball coach. Judging from the sports blogs and talk shows, a good portion of HawkeyeNation is up in arms at the hire. McCaffery comes to Iowa from Sienna. It is the 3rd straight ‘mid-major’ coach to be hired at Iowa. Fans are calling for the head of current AD Gary Barta for the hire. All I can say to Barta is hang in there, you are in good company. To Iowa fans I say chill out. While the program has fallen on hard times recently, it can be rebuilt. I had the good fortune to be in Iowa City during its last great sports rebirth. Having grown up bleeding Black and Gold during some very lean years, I got to watch Lute Olson take the hoopsters to the Final Four in 1980 and Hayden Fry end 19 years of frustration and reach the 1982 Rose Bowl. Dan Gable and his wrestlers had just won title number two of his 15 straight National Championships when I came to Iowa City as a freshman in 1977.
Most of the Iowa fans blogging today have never known lean times before. They are frustrated, and who can blame them? But, honestly, NONE of you know enough about the situation, or about Coach Fran yet. If you are Hawkeye fans, give him a chance! The best thing to be said about him is that he WANTS to be a Hawkeye. From all reports, he could have ended up at either St Johns or Seton Hall, but he pursued Iowa instead. He knows what Iowa can be. He was an assistant coach at Notre Dame during the 90’s when Iowa was going to the Big Dance and filling arenas with regularity. This is his chance, and he decided to come to the mid west rather than stay out east. Some say at 50 he is too old to under take the rebuilding process. Interestingly, when Fry took the job in ’79 he was, you guessed it, 50. Coach Fran seems to be a fiery, energetic leader and his teams play an uptempo brand of ball. In addition, he has taken 3 different small programs to the NCAA tourney.
Only time will tell if Coach Fran works out in Iowa City. But, hey, at least give the guy a chance. Iowa has a proud tradition. Hawkeye fans are fabled all around the nation for their support of the Black and Gold. Show that Hawkeye pride to the newest Hawkeye. Who knows, given time you may even come to regard Barta as the best AD since that other guy they wanted to run out of town. You know, the one who hired Fry and Olson and Gable. The one who made Iowa athletics relevent on the national stage.
More? 03/23/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: better access, expanding the field, gales, march madness, mid-majors, ncaa basketball, ncaa tournament, st marys, sweet 16, uni, uni panthers, university of northern iowa, upsets
add a comment What a wild ride, the first week of March Madness 2010. Upsets galore, highlighted by the defeat of the overall top seed Kansas Jayhawks by the UNI Panthers. UNI? You know, the MVC Champions. Missouri Valley Conference? If you didn’t know about UNI and the MVC before, you do now. While you’re at it, meet St Mary’s of the West Coast Conference and Cornell of the Ivy League. You are probably familiar with Butler and Xavier. This years Sweet Sixteen includes 5 members from “mid-major” conferences. The madness has returned to March.
There is an interesting phenomenon going on. There is a great buzz around the tournament this year. UNI and St Mary’s have captured the attention of the nation. When a small team advances, that always seems to be the case. Yet, when it comes time to round out the field of 64, we always rely on the usualsuspects. Last year for example, there were only 4 small conference teams selected among the 26 at large births. This year, that number doubled to eight. Is it coincidence that there is a greater buzz this season? Probably not. When the selection committee rounds out the field, the power conferences get 5 to 8 teams in. Most of the small conferences get only one. Now there is a movement to expand the field, perhaps to as many as 96 teams. They point to a team like Illinois out of the Big Ten and say they should be in. ILLINOIS? Are you kidding me? Minnesota should not have been invited, let alone Illinois. Why do we need to expand the field? The only reason I can think of is money. Some argue that there are too many smaller teams in the field, and that these teams take away chances from the power league. I would argue the opposite. I think that ANY conference should be limited to a maximum of 5 teams in the tourney. If you are only the 6th best team, at best, in your conference, what makes you think you should be playing for a shot at the national championship? I can hear the outrage now. The best league in the nation this year was the Big East. Surely there should be more than 5 teams there that had a chance to do well in the tournament. Lets take a look at that. The Big East got a total of 8 teams in the dance this year. They should dominate the brackets, right. Umm, not so much. After the first 2 rounds, the Big East has lost 6 of those 8 teams, 4 in the first round.
In fact, in the last 2 seasons, the teams selected sixth or higher by the committee from any conference have not fared well. (I ranked the teams based on seeding, assuming the higher seed team was included in the field of 64 after of the lower seed team.) This year, those teams were 2-7 in the tournament. In the last 2 years, they are a combined 6-13. In the last 2 years only 1 of those 13 teams made it to the Sweet 16, Arizona last year. Did any of those teams do well? My suggestion is to limit the conference total and allow some deserving smaller schools in. Currently, if you win a power conference regular season title, but lose in the conference tournament, you are assured to be invited to the field of 64. There is no such guarantee for a mid-major team. Heck, lets compromise. Even if you increase the limit to a maximum of 6 teams, that still would have opened up 4 spots this season and 6 last year.
You want madness in March? You do not need to expand. Just give the Mids a fighting chance.
Last Lick 03/16/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: basketball, big ten, coaching change, hawkeye, iowa, todd lickliter
add a comment
When I was attending the University of Iowa, Lute Olson was the head coach, and one of their tag lines was Iowa….the State of Basketball.
Officially, as of yesterday, the state of basketball at Iowa is a mess. Coach Todd Lickliter was let go after his third season at the University. The numberswere not pretty. Those 3 seasons were the worst 3 year span in Iowa history. Lickliter’s teams lost 20 more games than they won. They finished 6-12, 5-13 and 4-14 in the Big Ten conference during his time there. The 2009-10 season just concluded was the worst in Hawkeye history. Iowa reached the 20 loss mark for the first time in their 100 plus year basketball history, finishing 10-22. No less than nine scholarship players left the program with eligibility remaining during his tenure. Those are the bad facts. There was good, also. Because of all of the defections, Iowa fielded the youngest team in the Big Ten this season, starting 2 freshmen, 2 sophomores and a junior. There was only 1 senior on the squad. While there was no big man on the court this season, 6′ 9″ Juco transfer Devon Archie had red shirted because of a freak shoulder injury during pre season drills, and the incoming recruiting class includes a 6′ 9″ power forward. In fact, if the class remains in tact after the coaching change, Iowa had a top 30 recruiting class for next season. Additionally, there is some talent on the current squad. Sophomore Aaron Fuller has demonstrated that he can compete at the Big Ten level, as has fellow sophomore Matt Gatens. The Big Ten all freshman team this year included 2 Hawkeyes: point guard Cully Payne and forward Erik May. Payne ran Hawkeye point all season, and finished with a 25 point performance against Michigan in Iowa’s final game. May may be the best pure athlete on the team. Had Lickliter returned, things would have been better next season. Provided everyone else also came back.
But that was not assured. The team seamed to have quit on the system or the coach at the end of the season. Their last 3 road games of the seasonincluded an 18 point loss at Northwestern, a 27 point loss at Wisconsin and a 35 point loss at Minnesota. The argument has been made that the “Butler system” employed by Lickliter will not work in the Big Ten. But another former Butler coach, Thad Motta, is doing quite well at league rival Ohio State. By all accounts, Lickliter is an honerable man, posses the values that fit at an institution like Iowa, and perhaps deserved better than to be dismissed with 4 years left on his contract. But something was not working, and here we are.
The next hire by AD Gary Barta may just define his tenure at Iowa. Barta brought Lickliter to Iowa, and now, 3 short years later he is asking for a mulligan. One thing is for sure. The fan base had quit on the program. Attendance has been in a free fall for years, long before Lickliter arrived on the scene. The paid attendance fell below 10,000 per game for the first time in decades, and the actual per game average of people in the seats hovered around 6000 this season. This once proud program appeared in 16 NCAA tournaments in the 21 seasons from 1979 to 1999. Iowa played to packed houses during those years. But since the turn of the century, under coaches Steve Alford and Lickliter, The Hawkeyes have been included in the NCAA field only 3 times, have won just one game in those appearances and will miss the tournament for the 4th straight season.
Football is king at Iowa. That will not change. But basketball used to be played on the national stage. Iowa was a good coaching job. It can be again. The fans will come back if given a reason. While Iowa will not compete for a Big Ten crown every season, it is a place that, with the right coach, can compete in the field of 64. The first decade of the 21st century was a lost one for the Hawkeye hoopsters. The next hire in Iowa City will decide if that slide into basketball irrelevance continues.
Bracket Buster 03/08/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: bracket buster, march madness, ncaa basketball, ncaa tournament, northern iowa, panthers, uni
add a comment Congratulations to the University of Northern Iowa. The Panthers defeated Wichita State yesterday to win the Missouri Valley Conference tournament and claim the MVC’s automatic bid into the Big Dance. Having won the conference regular season crown by 3 games, and having won 27 games heading into the finals against the Shockers, the Panthers probably would have been in the tournament anyway, but now they will not have to squirm for a week. They made it official. The Panthers won the MVC automatic bid last season, also, bowing as a 12th seed to 5th seed Purdue by 5 points in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA tournament. That experience should prove invaluable to the Panthers. Last season, they were happy to just be a part of March Madness. This season, they have loftier expectations.
Looking for a surprise team to go on an unexpected tournament run? Take a hard look at these Panthers. Depending on their seeding and draw, this team could reach the sweet 16 or more. Most projections I have seen has them projected as an 8 or 9 seed. That would give them a better first round match up, and this team will be up to the challenge. The Panthers may be the best team you don’t know about.UNI finished their season with a 28-4 mark. Granted, they did not play the toughest schedule, but they beat the best teams they played. They are 4-1 against top 50 RPI teams, and currently have an RPI inside the top 20 themselves. The Panthers spent much of the last half of the season ranked among the AP top 25 teams. As previously mentioned, this team has NCAA tournament experience, having made an appearance last year. Also, this team is 5-1 in neutral court games this season. UNI is experienced, having 5 seniors and 3 juniors on the squad. This team ranks 2nd in the nation defensively, surrendering only 54.3 points per contest. UNI also hits 75% as a squad from the charity stripe. This team comes at their opponents in waves, going 10 deep. Whoever plays the Panthers must be ready for 40 minutes of all out defensive effort.
The Panthers are led by 7 foot center Jordan Egleseder, Forward Jake Koch and guards Kwadzo Ahelegbe and Ali Farokhmanesh, all seniors except for the junior Ahelegbe. They are a tough nosed, hard-working, veteran team that not only has a strong inside presence, but also is adept behind the 3 point arc. Any one who takes the Panthers too lightly does so at their own peril. Watch for UNI to win their first 2 games and make the sweet 16. From there, who knows?
for Go(l)d and Country 03/01/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: 2010, gold medal game, hockey, olympic hockey, sidney crosby, team usa, vancouver, zack Parasie
add a comment American hockey came of age yesterday. When the Olympic tournament began two weeks ago, the hockey team from the USA was given little or no chance to play for the Gold Medal. In many hockey circles, it was considered a stretch if they were to be included in the medal rounds, the top 4 teams in the 12 team tournament. After all, the USA was the youngest team in Vancouver. Even though their side consisted entirely of NHL players, there was not the star power of a Crosby, or Malkin, or Ovechkin.
The first hurdle that the US had to overcome was their pool participant Canada. After all, the Canadians were the host country, and were considered the tournament co-favorites, along with the Russians. A funny thing happened along the way. The US beat Canada in pool play and won the bye into the quarter finals. Both the USA and Canada reached the Gold Medal game. The USA had to again play the Canadians in Canada for the second time in a week. The final game of the tournament was one for the ages. Despite what the experts thought.[Again, most experts gave the USA little chance. Don Cherry, Canada’s most famous homegrown hockey huxter bloviated before the game that Canada would prevail 5-3. After all, they had the best big game goalie in the game, and the US needed to play rope-a-dope just to stay in the game against the mighty Canadians. They would not dare to press the issue against the mighty Canadian lads as that tactic surely would spell American doom. It was a good thing that the USA team did not listen to him. This game for gold, played before the largest hockey TV audience ever, was played all out from the opening face off. Canada scored two goals and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. Surely the US, trailing for the first time in the tournament, was done. But the boys from America clawed back, showing the resolve many thought they lacked. They had closed the game to 2-1 by the end of the second period, and had an entire nation holding their collective breath heading into the third and final period. Hockey is Canada’s national obsession. In fact, four million people in that country watched the announcement of the team roster on live TV, such is their passion. Of all the gold in this olympics, this was the one that defined their nation. Now, they were 20 minutes away. The Americans and Canadians played hard and tough throughout the 3rd period. But at the half way point, Canada still lead 2-1. Ten minutes left for the gold. Then five. Then two. The US pulled their goaltender in favor of a 6th attacker with a little over a minute left. The Americans were attacking 6 on 5 while defending an open net at the other end. With 24 seconds left, Zack Parasie stuffed home a rebound off of Canadian Goaltender Roberto Luoungo, and the game was tied. This Epic battle was headed for overtime. These two countries had fought a border war to a 2-2 stand still at the end of regulation. Now, these two natural rivals were headed to sudden death overtime. Canada, the country where the game was invented, and the USA, the hated rivals to the south, so reviled in Canada that the US national anthem is often lustily booed at NHL games played in Canada, would skate 4 on 4 to decide the final event of the Vancouver Olympic games.
Star power won out. 7:40 into the 20 minute overtime period, Sidney Crosby cemented his place in Canadian lore by beating USA goaltender Zack Miller with a shot. The Golden Goal belonged to Sid the Kid and Canada. But the Americans won over the hearts of many. This team proved that American Hockey belonged on the international stage. The Americans came within a shot of knocking off the Canadians for a second time in Canada. The Gold belonged to the Red and Whit of Canada. But in this tournament, the real winner was the group representing the Red White and Blue. USA goaltender Miller was named the tournaments Most Valuable Player, and the Silver medalists from the USA left these games with a new found respect.
No Comparison 02/23/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
Tags: 1980 olympics, canada, hockey, lake placid, olympics, upset, usa
add a comment The USA defeated Canada Sunday 5-3 in the final preliminary round game for each team. The victory gave the US first place in their preliminary group and a buy into the Quarter finals on Wednesday. Canada, the home team in the Vancouver Olympics, and Russia had entered the games as the favorites to win the olympic gold. The US victory has been compared to the USA upset of the Soviet Union in the semi final round of the 1980 olympics at Lake Placid, New York. Not having won a gold since that year, it is fair to say that this is the biggest upset since then, but does it even deserve to be mentioned in the same conversation?
The US team in Vancouver is made up entirely of NHL Players. GM Brian Burke decided to bring a fresh approach to this team, so of the 23 players on the roster, only 3 have prior olympic experience. additionally, at an average of 26 1/2 years of age, the US team is the youngest in the tournament. Despite not having the star power of Canada and some other olympic teams, the US squad has 3 NHL team captains on their roster. This is a team mentioned as a medal contender, and a long shot for a gold. The 1980 team was made up entirely of US collegiate players. Back then, the US still held to the armature spirit of the Olympics, and there were low expectations for the team, as many other teams were considered ‘profesional’ by comparison. The Soviet Union team had not lost a game in international competition in 12 years. Their 1980 squad had defeated a group of NHL all stars in a ‘challange cup’ game 6-0 in New York in the months just prior to the Olympic games.
The back drop to the Lake Placid games was one of strife and uncertainty. Unemployment and inflation rates were rising, there were long lines at gas[stations due to an oil shortage, and the nation of Iran was holding 53 americans hostage in the US Embassy building in that country. In addition, the USSR had recently invaded Afghanistan, and there was talk of a US boycott of the Summer Games to be held in Moscow later that year in protest. The Cold War was still raging, and the American psyche was low going into those games. The American hockey team exceeded expectations in pool play with a tie in the opening game as their only blemish. They had made the medal rounds, and their reward was playing the USSR in the semi finals. Fair or not, with the economic and political backdrop that existed at the time, the game match up was viewed by many as not only a hockey game, but also a slice of the cold war. And what a game it was. If the US and USSR played 20 games that year, the US SR would probably have won 19 times. This game was that one chance for the US. We all know the story. The overmatched kids from the USA overcame all odds and prevailed against the Soviet machine. They also secured the Gold 2 days later.
By comparison, the game against Canada, while an upset, was not close to that magic day in 1980. The game was not even an elimination game. Both the USA and Canada are alive in the tournament, and, if things fall right, may even meet in the semi finals or finals. The disparity in talent is no where near as great as it was 30 years ago. While it is true that the US is experiencing some rough economic times currently, the mood of the country is no where near the funk that gripped this land during Carter’s last year as president. And lets face it, as an evil adversary, Canada is no USSR. So the back drop is different, the times are different and the opponents are different. The victory over Canada was an upset, but no where near the upset of 30 years ago. That group of young Americans did more than pull off the greatest upset in the history of sports. They helped the nation feel better about itself during one of the lowest points of national confidence since the founding of this country.[
Poor Decisions 02/19/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: 2010 olympics, crashes, olympic games, olympics, vancouver
add a comment Bad decisions. A week into the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver, Canada, the games have been marred by bad decisions. unfortunately, many of the decisions that have impacted these games happened long before the athletes arrived. The unintended consequences of these decisions have ranged from annoyance to tragic.
The biggest questions center around the Whistler Sliding Centre, where Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili lost his life towards the end of his training run just hours before the games began. The 21-year-old made a steering mistake, flew off the track and impacted a steel post while traveling over 80 miles an hour. He never had a chance. This track is reputed to be the fastest in the world. But in no competition should a mistake cost a competitor his life. Kumaritashvili reportedly told his father days before the incident that he was scared of the track. His was not the only crash that day, but it was the most devastating. After the incident, The mens start was moved some 200 yards down the track, and a wall was erected at the impact point for protection. If that wall had been there from the beginning, perhaps the Georgian luger would be alive today. The problems at the Sliding Centre are not limited fo the luge. There were at least seven bobsled crashes during the first training runs Wednesday evening. When competitions of this sort are contemplated, safety must be the first priority.
Safety concerns have not been exclusive to the Sliding Centre. The Women’s Alpine course has been shortened and the final jump, called Hot Air, has been shaved to lower the dangerous air time generated in Wednesday’s downhill final, which was marred by several spectacular crashes. In addition, there have been many glitches in these games. There were timing issues in both men’s and women’s biathlon events, leading to several times being adjusted after the events ran. The ice making machine malfunctioned at a long track speed skating event earlier in the week leading to stoppages in the competition totaling almost 2 1/2 hours.Even the opening ceremonies were marred as one of the arms for the cauldron used in the lighting ceremony malfunctioned. Fans have also been inconvenienced. Over 20,000 tickets to last night’s mens half-pipe finals were voided when it was deemed that the standing room area had been made unsafe by weather conditions. The ticket price will be refunded, but that is of small consolation to anyone who traveled from far away and were left scrambling to find a way into the event. Heck, even the location of the Olympic Flame has been called into question. Usually the most iconic symbol of any Olympic Venue, there have been many, many complaints that the public can not get close enough to the flame to snap an unobstructed photo of the Flame. People want to photograph the flame, who knew? The restraining fence was moved Thursday, allowing greater public access to this most olympic of symbols. Any event of this size has issues, and things will probably settle down as the games go on. I have not even mentioned the fan transportation issues since they seem to plague all games. But for some, it is too late. When courses are designed, ‘safest’ should be given more attention than ‘hardest’ or ‘fastest.’ One has to wonder if the athletes were taken into consideration at all when these games were designed.
Decisions. They have unintended consequences. The poor planning of the 2010 planning committee will be a defining legacy of these games.
Hawkeye Gone 02/12/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports, Uncategorized.
Tags: anthony tucker, iowa basketball, iowa hawkeyes, ncaa basketball, todd lickliter
add a comment The University of Iowa announced today that basketball player Anthony Tucker has asked for, and been granted, release from his scholarship. The sophomore from Minnetonka, Minnesota, presumably will now transfer to another school.
Let the hand wringing begin. There have been many defections from the Iowa basketball program during coach Todd Lickliter’s three plus seasons as the head coach of the Hawkeyes. Now, with the departure of Tucker in season four, the coach Lick detractors will come out loudly. But, honestly, what choice did he have? The departure of Tucker has nothing in common with the players previously departed. Tucker’s is a sad story. His well chronicled issues with alcohol have led him to two suspensions in his first 2 seasons. Tucker came back this year after a lost season last year that found him arrested for public intox, having been found passed out in an alley behind an Iowa City bar, then being academically ineligible for the second semester. He entered his sophomore season with high hopes of puting that tough year behind him. Then, after starting Iowa’s first 11 games, came an altercation with a cab driver and another arrest for public intox. It was strike two in Iowa’s “three strikes” policy for student athletes. Tucker was suspended, and had made enough progress in the U of I’s progressive discipline program to be back practicing with his team mates. He even dressed for the last two games, but saw no action. The final straw for Tucker may have been Wednesday’s game against Northwestern. It was a game in which Iowa never trailed and lead by as many as 19 points in the second half. Despite this, Tucker saw no minutes on the court, even in mop up time. Message received. By asking for his release now, Tucker can contact, and be contacted by other schools, should anyone have interest. Hopefully for Tucker, a fresh start in a new location will help him get past his issues. For his sake, I hope so. But none of that is the fault of Coach Lick. He handled this situation well in my opinion.
For Hawkeye basketball fans, suffering through another losing season, the timing of this departure could not have been worse. Iowa had just picked up itsthird Big Ten win of the season. The team had performed well as of late. It was beginning to feel as if that light in the distance may, indeed, be the end of the tunnel, not just another oncoming train. Now the memory of multiple defections after each of the past few seasons are back in full force. Who will be the next to leave? Coach Lick has brought an entirely new system to Iowa. The most important thing he now needs is continuity. In each of the past two seasons, the team began to gel as the players finally seemed to grasp their roles. That appears to be happening again. What must happen now is for these players to return next season. With the recruiting class due to arrive next year, there is hope for the future. And, now, there is another scholarship available. I do not expect another round of players quitting the program. The players on the squad currently are still here because they want to be here.
The loss of Tucker was not Lickliter’s fault. He did everything right, in my opinion, including not rushing Tucker back in to the mix. He stuck to his guns, and hopefully the rest of the players will see that the decision is in their best interest, and Tucker’s. Interestingly, Tucker’s departure may end up helping Coach Lick and Iowa more than if he had stayed. As to the players that have left previously, let us not forget that they were the quitters. They either did not figure that they would get much playing time in this system or they left for greener pastures. What makes anyone think that this team would be any better off had they stayed? Do not lose sight of the fact that none of the players that left the program are in any danger of turning up on an All-American team any time soon. Several went down a division in competition when they left Iowa. One is out of basketball with legal problems of his own. This is not an effort to disparage those that left. It is just a reminder that they may not be the players many now seem to think that they were.
Boo birds 02/06/2010Posted by sportretort in Sports.
add a comment
Iowa basketball is in the midst of their 3rd straight losing season under coach Todd Lickliter. Attendance has dropped significantly, to the lowest levels since Carver Hawkeye Arena opened in the early 1980’s. Jon Miller of Hawkeyenation puts forth one theory as to why in an interesting article entitled “The Spoiled Generation.” (Read it here: http://www.hawkeyenation.com/basketball/the-spoiled-generation). It is an interesting take, and a good read. In the article, Miller suggests that one reason for the lack of fans in Carver Hawkeye is that people of his age (and younger) basically have not seen Iowa fail over a period of time in either football or basketball before now. He was born in 1971, and missed, or was too young to remember, most of the 19 straight non winning seasons in football, and remembers basketball from Lute Olsen forward, having no memory of the Dick Schultz era that preceded it. Most Iowa fans of that age remember bowl games and NCAA appearances as a natural part of most seasons. Many of them will not support anything less.
I think many things contribute to the lack of fans at Iowa basketball games. Miller also mentions many of these as contributing factors. I think that the schedule did Iowa no favors this season, with many of the weekend home Big Ten games coming while the students were on break. I think that the prices are currently too high, given the number of games on TV, the current economic conditions, and win/loss record of the past few seasons. Do not lean too heavily, however, on TV as an excuse. For years, almost every Iowa game was on TV and, still, Carver Hawkeye was full most games. (I do think, however, that with big screens and high def broadcasts, TV is more of a factor now.) I feel, however, another major factor is that there has been a change among fans, in general. And this change is not unique to Hawkeye fans.
We have become an instant gratification society. We have also instilled a sense of entitlement among our younger generations. We reward everything whenthey are young. Trophies for participation, for example. We do not teach the hard lessons of how to lose to our children when they are growing up, so they do not understand or relate to poor performances when they see it in our competitive sports. I am about 12 years older than Mr. Miller, so I grew up with some pretty bad football and basketball, but still we supported our teams. In 1973, for example, Iowa was 0-11 in football. Yet, in 1974, the Hawkeyes were still 10th in the nation in attendance, despite a 3-8 campaign. That could never happen today. I would argue that with today’s “what have you done for me lately” fans, it takes very little for fans to turn. You only need to go back to last football season to see this. Iowa had one of their best seasons in history, got off to their greatest start ever, yet there was Kinnick Stadium during the third quarter of the Indiana game. Iowa was 8-0 for the first time, yet they were struggling against an inferior opponent. After the best start in school history, and they were trailing 21-7 to the Hoosiers. At home. This team that had given Hawkeye fans thrills all season, including wins at Penn State and Wisconsin, needed help from their loyal fans for a change. And that help came in the form of boos!! Not just once, but several times. Not from everyone, but from many, many fans, and the boos were lusty and loud. I turned to my brother who was sitting next to me in Kinnick and asked, more than once, are you kidding me? How could these people boo this team when they need our support the most? After all this team had done? Iowa went on to win that game, and the cheers were deafening at the end. But every “fan” who booed should have been ashaimed to cheer. That’s the problem. People demand perfection these days, it seems, from everyone but themselves.
That was not the first time I saw that phenomenon. I am reminded of the first game of the 1999 NFL season. The two-time defending Super Bowl champion Broncos were hosting the Miami Dolphins. I was sitting in the stands in Denver as they went to half time trailing 17-7 and were booed off the field. They had won the last 2 Super Bowls yet it took less than 30 minutes of football for the fans to turn on them. It seems that in our video game dominated, 30 second sound bite induced world, that we are becoming less capable of being a fan. There was a time that you supported a team through every thing. I have been a fan of many teams during my 50 years. I have attended literally thousands of games. NCAA games. NFL games. MLB, NHL and NBA games. I can honestly tell I have never booed my team ONCE. (In fact, the only time I can ever remember booing at all was the first time I saw Barry Bonds take the field after the steroid revelations about him became public.) Sure I have been disheartened. Yes, I have been disappointed. But I stuck with my teams. Fans do not do that these days.
They will come back to Iowa basketball. All the Hawkeyes need to do is win. And they will win again. But the question is, how long will the fans stay?