For the first time in a long time, I went to an NBA game. As a native Hoosier, I always support the Pacers, but haven’t had the inclination to attend many games in the last few years. I’ve always marveled at the mix of people at these games. You have the die-hard season ticket holding fans, the serious fans who can only make the occasional game, and the people who have tickets, but are going mostly for something to do or business. The group of fans off to the side of me had a ritual for the beginning of the game that I hadn’t seen before. At first, it made me smile, but then I began to wonder if it was just good fun, or if it was a rare display of bad sportsmanship from my hometown.
During the introductions of the opposing team (the Bucks in this case), a section of the stadium that I believe is called the “G2 Zone” after Paul George and George Hill, stood up and turned around. After the name of each Bucks player was announced, the fans of that section yelled what sounded like, “who cares!”
There is a part of me – the Pacers fan – that smiled when I saw them facing away and heard their cries. I don’t feel bad for the NBA players. I don’t think they care in the slightest about things like that. They are professionals there to do a job. They get paid millions to compete for the fans who have every right to be passionate.
However, there is another part of me that isn’t sure about the chant. Hoosiers are generally known for our hospitality. With few exceptions, we strive to create a sports atmosphere that is passionate about our home team, while being respectful to opposing teams and their fans. The Hoosier in me wonders if the “who cares” chant is an unsportsmanlike practice that doesn’t really fit the image we have built over the years.
Ultimately, I don’t think I mind it. While some may see the behavior and say it doesn’t display the image that the people of Indiana try to exhibit, I think it is just a way for our fans to show that we are passionate about our team. And it’s not like it puts us anywhere in the vicinity of some unsportsmanlike fans (Raiders fans, cough cough). Keep it up G2 Zone fans – and your counterparts in Area 55! Bring the passion back to Indiana Basketball!