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Three ‘lonely’ Hoosier fans meet abundance of UI friends

BY JIM ZEIGER - GUEST OPINION | NOVEMBER 06, 2009 7:20 AM

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I would like share a road-trip story three Hoosier fans took this Halloween weekend to Iowa City.

Traveling across 360 miles of beautiful, corn-lined Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa interstates felt like we had never left home. But maybe we never did.

Iowa City embraced us from the time we arrived Friday to the minute we said our good-byes Sunday. Our story is intended to share the profound effect we can all have on one another.

Every Iowa Hawkeye fan, student, Iowa City resident, hotel employee, bartender, tailgater, taxi driver, and waitress we met deserves the utmost respect.

We met no stranger this weekend. Friday night, among the jam-packed, costumed downtown bar scene, we met our first friend. Without hesitation, he told us everything we needed to know about Iowa City, from the bar scene to tailgating outside Kinnick Stadium.

After a long night of enjoying the downtown scene, we headed to the game on Saturday morning. A flock of black and gold made our already-weak stomachs quake a little more. It bore an uneasily close resemblance to our fellow Indiana school, Purdue University. There was little to no cream and crimson to be found.

Within seconds, we were linked with seven Hawkeye fans. We tailgated, shared stories, pictures, exchanged cell numbers, and educated each other about proper tailgating activities and campus rituals.

This is what the Midwest and Big Ten football is all about.

Sitting in an end zone full of black and gold — nay, an entire stadium jam-packed with black and gold — contrasted with our crimson Indiana University jackets. I tip my hat to everyone sitting around us for the level of sportsmanship displayed during the game. They are passionate Hawkeye fans, educated football and Big Ten fans, and good people. I must have shaken hands with 10 to 12 guys as we humbly left our seats.

We then went back to enjoy the sunny day and tailgate. Three Hoosier fans met two more friends. One offered up a full plate of delicious pork-chop sandwiches, and another friend shared stories of Iowa and Bloomington.

Back downtown with ample amounts of information from taxi drivers and students, we hit the sports bars. After several friendly exchanges in the bar, we left and got only 5 feet from the door to meet two more friends. What started almost as a conversation to bash Indiana University ended as an invitation back inside to buy us a drink. Several hours later, the three of us had made friends with nearly the entire bar.

It didn’t matter where we went or who we met. The only negative comment we heard was, “In Iowa, we have a thing about not selling our tickets to the away team. I know who you got these tickets from, and I’m going to go have a talk with him.” Loved it.

So, what’s the big deal?

As we drove home laughing and reminiscing, we took a moment to ponder. Would we have been that welcoming to three lonely Iowa fans? And it hit home on a much deeper level.

Life is short. Experiences last forever. And sometimes you are inspired by the simple things people do. Much love to Iowa. Your Indiana friends aim to share your story and inspire more of our beloved Midwest culture.

Jim Zeiger is an Indiana resident.


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