My favorite childhood photo is of me holding up an Indiana basketball sweatshirt my dad got me for Christmas when I was three. I’m holding it up and smiling a smile larger than I’ve ever smiled since.
The first song I ever learned the words to was the Indiana fight song. I grew up loving Bobby Knight and hating everything about Purdue and anyone who ever even drove past the campus.
This is because my father is IU class of 1976. If you don’t know, the 1976 Hoosiers were the last team to finish an NCAA basketball season undefeated. The best gift I probably ever gave him was a piece of the old playing surface at Assembly Hall — the surface my dad got to watch those ’76 Hoosiers play on when he was in school. He’s since had it signed by Bobby Knight and it hangs on a plaque in my dad’s office.
I tell you all that to tell you (and my dad) this: Indy is going down tonight, baby!
Today, I officially throw off the shackles and the oppression of my dad’s Alma Mater and I say solidly that I hate that sweater Dad gave me as a kid. I’m sure I spilled food all over it repeatedly as a child, maybe I even got sick on it once or twice. Knowing how I was as a kid, I probably lost the darn thing before I could outgrow it. Well, that obviously was foreshadowing. I hate the IU fight song. I’m sure I sang it out of tune all the time as a kid. Well, that was obviously a sign of things to come.
Tonight, the #1 Indiana Hoosiers host the Carolina Tar Heels, a team that can’t be contained by a number assigned by sports writers or coaches. Tonight, in the battle of teams named after things no one can explain, the floorboards of Assembly Hall will become soaked with the blood and lost dignity of the Hoosier basketball squad, and the Tar Heels will come home triumphant.
Dad, I love you, but your boys are going down.
Oh, yeah — also, thanks for coming up to help me paint next week…