Monday, September 27, 2004
dude, the only thing more awesome than seeing the hawkeyes lose would be more tax cuts for the rich
My beloved Iowa Hawkeyes were defeated yesterday by the Michigan Wolverines, 30-17. I have received some taunting e-mails about this from readers, such as the one arriving in my inbox this evening that says: "i was thinking of you yesterday when the hawkeyes had their sorry asses kicked."
It does not bother me when people profess glee at the Hawkeyes losing, as of course everyone is entitled to their own opinions as to these matters. Just as a matter of logical consistency, it does bother me a teensy bit whenever someone roots against the Hawkeyes and yet professes otherwise to be of any kind of leftward outlook on the world. I mean, if one takes a unifying left value as something resembling a tendency to side against the weak against the strong, the disadvantaged against the privileged, the underdogs against the behemoths, the downtrodden against the elites, et cetera, it's hard for me to apprehend how one can claim to be leftish in today's political environment while dancing with excitement at a Hawkeye loss.
If you look at the basic demographics of college sport, it's hard to understand how the Hawkeyes ever manage to win at all. The University of Iowa is the smallest public school in the Big Ten. Beyond this, it has, without a doubt, the most football-impoverished recruiting base in the Big Ten. As just partial evidence of this, consider some numbers:
Ohio: 1.1 million people aged 18-24; 1 BCS school (1.1 million people/school)
Michigan: 1 million people aged 18-24; 2 BCS schools (500,000 people/school)
Wisconsin: 566,000 people aged 18-24; 1 BCS school (566,000 people/school) (Note: That Barry Alvarez must be a genius to be able to win here!)
Iowa: 316,000 people aged 18-24; 2 BCS schools (158,000 people/school)
Just looking at these numbers for Iowa and Michigan, it's really not surprising that Iowa usually gets beaten by Michigan. Indeed, the Hawkeyes have only defeated the Wolverines six times in my lifetime. Arguably, in none of those six instances--including our 26-0 victory in 1984 and our 34-9 victory in Ann Arbor in 2002--did the Hawkeyes field the more talented team. Indeed, perhaps only in one case--the 12-10 victory in 1985--could one say the Hawkeyes put a team on the field that was even 90% as talented as the Michigan team.
However, being Iowans, we do what we can with what we have and don't complain, except occasionally on our weblogs. We are used to sporting disappointment and take it stoically. Iowa didn't have a winning season in the ten years before I was born, nor did they have a winning season until ten years after I was born.
We recognize that we are fortunate if we beat Michigan more than once in any given presidential administration. We focus on the good times. Have I mentioned the time we shamed a considerably more talented Michigan team 34-9 in Ann Arbor? The final score was 34-9. While the Michigan fan is likely already over whatever thrill they felt from Saturday's 30-17 win, I can even today recall and savor, firstly, the 34, and then, secondly and entirely distinctly, the 9.
But, sure, I can understand why someone would root against the Hawkeyes. It's much the same as rooting for Goliath, Microsoft, the Bourgeoisie, Clear Channel Radio, Halliburton, Ivan Drago, the Slytherin, The Dream Team, and the Death Star, but I do understand how one might find all that appealing. I'm sure, for instance, that Dick Cheney, when he watches games from his secret concrete bunker, loves nothing better than to see the Hawkeyes suffer defeat, so why shouldn't you?
BTW, I am actually going to be at the Hawkeye game next week! I go to one game each year and next week is it. So rooters-against-the-Hawkeyes might also thus want to root for a pouring rain, too.