Wabash Little Giants: Went to school there. Wore Wabash jersey for ultimate disc and captained the team for two years. Would definitely go to any national championship celebrations.
Purdue Boilermakers: The family school. My mom and most of her family went there. My wife and almost her entire family on both sides went there. Grew up watching them since birth. Would definitely go to any national championship celebrations.
Chicago Cubs: It was all because of TV and Ryne Sandberg. My dad has made the observation that baseball has been spun through the Parrish family for quite a few generations. Most of that family is from Missouri and still lives in Missouri. As you might expect, especially from where in Missouri they are, they are die hard Cardinal fans. This is certainly true of my dad and younger brother as well. How did it not pass down to me? Well, we got WGN, which meant the Cubs were always on. They had Harry Carey doing Harry Carey things, especially singing the stretch every day. They had Wrigley Field. They had Ryne Sandberg and Mark Grace. I was powerless to resist. They overpowered by pre-K mind. While it might have happened pretty much by accident,* it certainly stuck. I’ve been a die-hard Cubs fan ever since. I would go to that World Series parade, no doubt.
*And to the chagrin of my dad, apparently, judging by some of the pictures they had done of us as kids. They also aren’t online, it seems.
Indiana Pacers: I really don’t care about the NBA very much. I went through a period where I didn’t care about the Pacers that much. I do care that much now, though. I didn’t watch a second of the finals after the Pacers had been eliminated, though I’m sure Miami and San Antonio put on quite a show. Some of my earliest memories were of watching the Pacers play and usually coming up short in the most heart-wrenching, dramatic ways possible. Poor Reggie Miller. Then came the brawl, and the entire state wanted to forget about the team for a few years. It was probably in everybody’s best interest. The fans are starting flock back now, though, after trickling back to start. I’m sure a whole lot of people have their story of how they rediscovered the Pacers. Here’s mine. I was a senior at Wabash and trying to figure out what I was going to do when I graduated. There was a job fair at the Fieldhouse that cost $30, and you got a ticket as part of the price to watch them play LeBron James’ Cavaliers that night. I thought, hey, I would love to work in sports, and at the very least, I’ll get to see a game. After watching the Pacers lose a surprisingly close one,* I remembered how much I used to love watching this team and how nice an area Indianapolis had built for them. They still weren’t all that good, Danny Granger is the only player left from that team, I’m fairly sure. But they won me back that night in 2008. I like to think I was a fairly early returner. The crowd sizes at the Fieldhouse would certainly suggest that. Since then, though, I’ve made it a point to make it to at least one game every year. I did miss one year, and I wasn’t really happy about it. For as little as I care about the league as a whole, my heart is behind this team. I would be at that victory parade in a heartbeat.
*LeBron didn’t do much that game. Oh well. So it goes. It’s like how I missed Albert Pujols hit a home run almost right in front of where we were sitting because the line to get my mom nachos took too long. Yadi Molina picking a guy off first in the top half of that inning helped. I was literally giving my order to the girl working the concession stand when I heard the crack of the bat. It sounded awfully solid, and the crowd’s response confirmed the inevitable. That was about the most deflated nacho order ever put in. On the plus side, Pujols hit another one later that game into the bullpen that I did get to see, so no harm done, I suppose.
Indianapolis Colts: I do care, but they’re probably the bottom of my totem pole of teams.* I was a Dolphin fan for years because I really like Dan Marino. After he left, though, there was no reason to keep rooting for Miami. So, I came back to my hometown team. Luckily enough, there was Peyton Manning making the team watchable for probably the first time (other than the out-of-nowhere 1995-96 team with Jim Harbaugh) since they came to Indy. I found when they lost to the Saints that I cared more than I realized, but I’m still pretty blase about it. I didn’t go to that victory parade, nor did I bother to go see the Lombardi Trophy when it came through either Lafayette or Danville. I’m sure it’s my ongoing vendetta of sorts against the NFL that keeps me from caring that much.
*I said it was in no particular order.
Chicago Blackhawks: I didn’t go to either victory parade, but this team does have it’s hooks in me. This is probably the most interesting story, and one I’m sure I’ve told before. But here it goes again. Hockey is a hard sport to follow in Indiana. I came to it through video games and the local (though now former) USHL team, the Danville Wings. When it came to the NHL, it was pretty well impossible to find growing up outside of a weekly FOX game, and that’s no way to follow a particular team. I gravitated towards the Avalanche because I liked Patrick Roy on Genesis. I can’t speak for him necessarily, but I’m guessing that’s pretty similar to how Andrew came to be a Penguins fan. Like Marino, Roy retired and Colorado is a hard follow in this part of the country, and I again found myself without a team to root for. I also finally had my own DirecTV, so I had more control over what I was watching. Living in Lafayette (though this is also true in Crawfordsville and Covington), you can get both St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks games. Being a bit of a free agent fan, I checked out both games pretty hard back in my Ironwood apartment. This would have been 2009. I was leaning towards the Blues for a long time, I think a bit out of guilt that I didn’t become a Cardinal fan. I felt like I ought to have something in Missouri to root for. As it happened, Chicago and St. Louis made the playoffs that year. Chicago played before St. Louis did, I think on a weekend. I was home not doing anything, so I pretty well had the game on in the background just waiting for Chicago and Calgary to start playing. The build up to the game (at the United Center) was amazing, and the passionate cheers during the anthem gave me goosebumps. I’m not one to typically get goosebumps at songs and moments like that, but I sure as hell did then. The Blackhawks went out and won that game behind such a spirited crowd, and I was hooked. I’ll still watch the Blues and I like to see them do well, but I am a Blackhawks fan now. I’m sure to people who have watched the team their whole lives, I’m the dreaded bandwagon jumper who likes them because they’re trendy. I assure you I’m not. Well, I might be a bandwagon jumper, but I’ll be sticking around. Thank God the games are on TV now. I might’ve been one of those lifers if they had been to start. In any case, I think knowing I came to the team pretty recently has me feeling a little self-conscious about it, at least around other Chicago fans. That’s why, at least at this point, I don’t think I could go to a victory parade. I guess I don’t feel like I’ve earned it yet.
There it is. A complete guide to my sports loyalties. Maybe that will give some insight as to how I feel about teams and how deeply I care when I write about them.