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March 25, 2014

BEAM: I want to dance with somebody

— School dances are supposed to be fun. But, in the midst of the merriment, you’ll always find the kids that stand alongside the wall, watching the happy couples sway and desperately longing for someone — anyone — to ask them to glide across the gym floor. After a while, the realization comes that this won’t happen, not this time around. Sweaty palms start to dry and hope begins to flee as they sip a glass of punch and wearily observe all the excitement being had around them.

This is what it feels like to be a Hoosier basketball fan in Southern Indiana right now. Only no one invited us to this ball. Instead of languishing against a wall, we’re standing outside on our tippy toes and straining to see through the gym windows. A swirl of red and blue flash by as the Cards and Cats prepare to tango.

And this feeling of being left behind absolutely stinks.

Yes, I’m whining. I know I shouldn’t. More important matters exist in life to focus on. I get that. But when you’re Kentucky born and Indiana bred, basketball is its own season. Wins bring happiness. Losses can lead to sorrow and, at times, anger.

Should watching 18-year-old boys throwing projectiles at an 18-inch round hoop produce all that? In a perfect world, probably no. In our world, yes. That’s how the ball bounces here in Indiana.

In all honesty, with the lackluster season we had, the exclusion was to be expected. You’d think we’d be used to the disappointment. Indiana hasn’t made the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament for four out of the past six years. And, despite the welcome reprieve of reaching the Sweet 16 last March, a new NCAA championship banner hasn’t been hung from the sacred rafters of Assembly Hall since 1987, before most of the kids filling the seats of the student section were even born.

Cinderella has lost her glass slipper at the dance, it seems. Who knows when we’ll find one with the right fit?

All the while teams from neighboring universities continue to succeed. UK and UL have both brought home banners in the past three years alone. Their fan bases celebrate these triumphs at every step, as they should, as we would. In their glory, a few ridicule us. Once again, some of us have done the same when the situations have been reversed.

After a bit, though, envy creeps in. Most every hoops fan around these parts is fired up for the Sweet 16 matchup of UL and UK this Friday. Their celebrations and taunts litter social media as the excitement for the night grows to a feverish delight. Throw rankings and statistics and records out the door. Rivalries like these defy them all. Anything can happen in one game. Legacies will be tested, dreams will be fulfilled.

I sure do miss that for my Hoosiers.

Things for Indiana, though, will get better. A Kentucky fan told me that trying to cheer me up. Needless to say, when a Cats’ fan wipes your tears, times can’t get much worse.

Or can they? Yes, Purdue. I’m looking at you.

As for this go-around, good luck to both Kentucky and Louisville as they hit the hardwood floor together in their championship quest. And if you go out and happen to run into me Friday night, could you remember to bring a flask? For dances like these, it might be good to go ahead and spike the punch.

— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at adbeam47@aol.com.

 

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