Being a senior Sport Communication major, many of the courses teach you to look at sports in a different way, to dive deeper into the stories the world of sport brings us. This year, the story of Indiana basketball began a new chapter. The 2011-12 squad, which included five seniors who have grown with the program from the bottom to the top, climbed their way back from the depths of irrelevancy to shock the world with a 27-9 record and reaching the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
After Indiana won the third round game against VCU, I had no choice but to purchase tickets to see them play in the sweet 16 in Atlanta. Being a senior, this was the only shot I had to watch the Hoosiers play live in the postseason. The opportunity was even sweeter being that it was against Kentucky, arguably the best team in the country, a team we already beat in historic fashion at Assembly Hall. We have Christian’s Watford’s buzzer-beating three pointer to thank for that.
I made the nine-hour drive to Atlanta with some other Sport Communication students to both watch the Hoosiers play and experience the atmosphere surrounding the NCAA Tournament. It was hard not to notice the amount of Kentucky blue walking around the streets of Atlanta, as Kentucky fans travel better than any team in the country. They clearly outnumbered the fans in cream and crimson.
The Georgia Dome was a nice venue to put on a sporting event, but I prefer an actual arena for a basketball game. The view wasn’t ideal and they stuck the students in the corner where we were not to be heard. Nevertheless, we were in the building witnessing Indiana basketball play in the Sweet 16 and that’s all that mattered. When the game tipped off, the building was as loud as I’ve heard even compared to the raucous crowds at Assembly Hall.
During the first half of the game, Indiana kept pace with Kentucky, even holding a four-point lead with five minutes to go until half time. The student section was violently cheering and it was clear the Kentucky fans near by were getting irritated. Half time came and it was a much needed break from the emotional roller coaster of a first half. Unfortunately, Kentucky proved to be too good, forcing its will upon Indiana ending its fairy tale of a season.
Leaving the Georgia dome without a Hoosier victory was tough, but it was hard not to be proud of the team that brought Indiana basketball back into the light of the elite teams of the country. The aura surrounding the city was unforgettable, and the trip was well worth the time and money even with the defeat.
The trip ultimately signaled the both the end of basketball year and started the final descent towards graduation. The NCAA Tournament is the ultimate sporting event for a sport communication student to attend. Not only does it exemplify various aspects of the sporting world, but also it gives you an in depth experience of how sports effect the lives of fans everywhere.
Departing Atlanta, I came to understand that the world of sport, especially within college basketball, is not just a game but also a lifestyle. Thousands of people either flew by plane or drove to Atlanta to watch and experience their favorite universities participate in the mecca of college basketball tournaments. If any Sport Communication or Sport Marketing student ever has another chance to experience this type of sporting event, take advantage. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the world of sport in its prime habitat.
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