My First Day As A Hawkeyes Fan
Hawkeye Nation became one fan bigger on Saturday, Iowa’s home opener against the Wyoming Cowboys. I don’t know much about the Hawkeyes in general, which makes no difference to the dedicated Iowa fan. As long as I sported the black and gold, I was immediately accepted. And since this was my newly enrolled daughter’s first game, I was willing to see what it was all about.
The Iowa Hawkeyes has been one of my least favorite teams for the better part of the last 3 decades, because of, well, you fans know why. It’s you. Quite possibly the most obnoxiously loyal and uniformed in the word of Sports. I couldn’t quite understand the enthusiasm for such a mediocre team by people with no connection to them other than geography.
Without going into the absurdity of fandom in general, let’s just say I was content with whooping it up for The Bears, White Sox, Cardinals, and Notre Dame when they played (And the Blackhawks when WSNS-TV was coming in on the black and white “Sports” TV in the family room of my house growing up.) It wasn’t until Katie had an interest that my interest became more, well, pronounced.
So I woke up Saturday, donned my all-new IOWA sweatshirt, hung up my Charging Herky plaque, patted it lightly, made both of us a giant Turkey sandwich, and sat down to watch the game. Thankfully, college football is a great sport to watch no matter who is playing, so while it was close early, the Hawkeyes were able to beat Wyoming rather handily. I was more concerned about the outcome for Katie’s sake, frankly.
After the game, I drove into Iowa City. It was like Mardi Gras. People literally hanging out of windows waving the Hawkeyes flags, people honking at them while they screamed back. It was similar to the downtown scene in Remember The Titans just before Gary Bertier gets into his car accident. But no accident for me. I was there to pick up Katie and take her dinner.
I squeezed into a parking place that maybe wasn’t a place at all. Sort-of in front of a homeowners driveway, and I thought the guy on the porch would give me grief. “Go Hawks,” was all he shouted upon seeing my sweatshirt after I asked if I could sit my car here for just a second across from the dorms. Well, I thought to myself, “Go Hawks” right back at ya’.
Standing at the front door of Katie’s Hall, I was greeted by every type of fan, from the college students who accidentally drank too much Lemonade without knowing it was “hard” stumbling back incoherently (but yet still strong enough to utter “Go Hawkeyes” in between flashes on unconscious) to the parent alumni, to the just plain parents like me.
And at every turn, each fan was more cordial than the last. I guess you’re going to find that amongst any group of fans, but it goes deeper on a college campus. Even more so a Big 10 program that does really live and die with the wins and loses of their football team.
I’m still new to the Hawkeye Nation, but after the glimpse I got last weekend, I’m curious to see where this bandwagon ends up.
At the end of the first quarter of Saturday’s game, the entire crowd turned to wave to the kids in the newly built wing of the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. A listener’s nephew was on the 11th floor of the hospital: