With basketball season in full tilt, I scrounged up a little free time to watch “Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. The New York Knicks,” an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary.
Being from the corner of the state where you root for the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Bulls, all I ever knew was the sensational postseasons starring Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoč, Dennis Rodman and Luc Longley.
So during Jordan’s hiatus, the Indiana Pacers never really resonated with me. I was also four or five years old, not really being able to pay attention until the three post-season runs after Jordan’s return.
Watching the old playoff games against the New York Knicks and getting an inside look at Reggie Miller’s attitude before, after and during the games was insightful – now I know why all my friends from outside the Region always talk about the guy and the feats he pulled off.
One other aspect of the story struck me: how people from Indiana and New York were perceived.
Knicks versus hicks. Please.
Athletic competition inherently pushes people to put others into categories, as that’s the essence of conflict, but how people choose to do so is endless entertainment.
My high school’s football team was famous for three things: the wishbone offense, Coach Rus Radtke and its rough and tumble style of play. When we played a local Catholic high school, a headline in the local sports section read “Catholics vs. Convicts.”
The author of that headline probably loved it because of the alliteration, though I guess that’s not true alliteration (trade secret: journalists love alliteration). It also casted the fans, players and followers into their own distinct groups.
I had the disdain of being called a convict, much like any Pacers fan, and really any Hoosier, had when called a bunch of hicks.
Now, I might have a soft-spot in my heart for certain NASCAR drivers, but I still don’t think that’s a fair assessment. When it comes down to it, it’s all stereotyping.
It’s easy to do in the world of sports. It’s even easier to do in real life, as it requires less thought and measure than actually taking the time to learn about the people you’re talking about.
A quick note about coffee hours: Sometimes last minute responsibilities come up, and I cannot make it to Hearthstone. If that is the case, I’ll send out a notice over the Current in Fishers Facebook page and Twitter Account (@CI_Fishers). Having said that, visit me at coffee hours at Hearthstone Coffee House & Pub on Tuesdays from 3 to 5 p.m.