COLUMN: The uninitiated fan’s guide to IU sports – Indiana Daily Student

So, you want to get into collegiate sports and you’ve trusted IU with your undying fandom. On behalf of the Hoosier faithful, I’d like to answer some of the questions you might have about IU athletics. 

We’ll save the tricky stuff like rules and conferences for another day — and I definitely don’t feel like exploring the murky history of student athletics at the moment —  but stick with me and I’ll tell you everything you need to know about rooting for the folks in cream and crimson. 

Where do I start?

If you want to be part of an unparalleled gameday atmosphere steeped in tradition where major television crews crowd the sidelines and you can hardly hear yourself think over jubilant cheers, head on over to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall for a men’s basketball game.

If you want to see IU compete at the highest level and win an appreciable majority of its games, try pretty much any other sport. 

What if I don’t know anything about sports?

Try not to let it hinder your enjoyment. Sports are essentially a celebration of the human form and no rulebook can tell you how to appreciate them.

That said, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a guy in a backwards visor and an ill-fitting basketball jersey to explain every excruciating detail of the game to you. If you’re lucky, he might even divulge a few cryptocurrency trading tips he picked up from his investment banker uncle. 

Can I still refer to a team as “we” even though the athletes have no idea I even exist?

Considering you may be paying tens of thousands of dollars in tuition to IU, it’s probably fine. Still, talking about a team you don’t play for in the first person has always struck me as a bit odd.

I’m a loyal Kroger customer, but you never hear me say, “Yeah, we’ve had some absolutely killer deals on produce this week. I just hope our checkout and bagging speed holds up while Cynthia takes time off for carpal tunnel surgery.” 

Are the referees going to be alright?

Well, it looks like somebody visited Assembly Hall.

Berating referees isn’t unique to IU, but having one of the largest undergraduate populations in America definitely magnifies the verbal onslaught. One could argue it’s highly problematic to accuse officials of blindness or foist dehumanizing threats upon them for hours at a time, but it’s the referees’ fault for specifically screwing over IU.

I mean, how else do you explain decades of mediocrity in football and a 34-year championship drought in men’s basketball?

Wow, you must be really fun at parties.

Sorry, that’s not a question. Moving on.

How much do the games cost?

Students can buy football season tickets for $90, and a combination package with men’s basketball will run you $410. Otherwise, you’re best off scalping tickets from a freshman who procrastinated studying for his finite math midterm way too long and had to skip the Wednesday night basketball game.

Fortunately, the rest of IU’s sports are free to any student with a valid student ID, so you’ll really only pay with your time and eventual heartbreak. 

What does LEO mean?

Not a single square inch of IU’s campus can exist without a wealthy donor slapping his name on it, so I’d understand if you thought Leo was an alumnus who paid to be immortalized on IU’s football helmets.

However, LEO actually stands for “love each other,” and while every other football team’s motto is a shallow ploy to sell t-shirts, LEO is completely real and beautiful and if you think otherwise, you’re a heartless scoundrel. 

OK, but what exactly is a Hoosier?

Great question, I have no idea. 

The Hoosier is a rare mascot that doesn’t fall into the classic categories of animals, historical warriors or flagrant appropriations of an indigenous people.

Ultimately, a Hoosier is just someone who lives in Indiana. They could look and act like any one of the super charming fans in the stands at games, which is probably why IU has never successfully established a live mascot.

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