I live in Chicago, IL. It’s a beautiful, progressive, vibrant city. It’s the home of George Pullman, Daniel Burnham, Jane Addams, Frank Lloyd Wright, Enrico Fermi, Saul Bellow, Carl Sandburg, Muddy Waters, Curtis Mayfield, Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and Barack Obama, among many many others. Living here, I am subjected to plenty of things on a daily basis, but chief among is them the fierce compression of culture here, the compacting of not only people but beliefs, histories, and heritages. Long before I arrived, those differing cultures formed something coherent, yet divisionally independent; became a Great City, one which I feel privileged to live in. I embrace this diversity wholeheartedly. It’s a beautiful thing.
But among all this embracing, there is one sect I simply can not tolerate. You probably already know who they are. Illinois fans.
Oh, I like them individually just fine. They are my friends, my friends’ parents; I would never actually claim to hate these people under any normal circumstance. I don’t hate them.
But I hate those colors on their shirts. I hate the self-righteousness around a program with nary a national championship banner hanging from the rafters of their oddly alien Assembly Hall knockoff. I hate the way they treated Eric Gordon, as if this 18-year-old kid was duty bound to them for life, as if he robbed them of their livelihood by defecting to a rival. I hate that a Peoria newspaper editor would dare call Eric Gordon a “steaming pile of two guard,” and then have the balls to apologize for it by saying he “lost his cool.” (You’re a newspaper editor! You’re not supposed to lose your cool in print! And over a high school kid, no less!) I hate their squealing over Kelvin Sampson, as if their own program’s history — even recently; Jamar Smith, anyone? — is squeaky clean. I hate the Chief. Oh, do I hate the Chief, hate the way a backwards minstrel symbol brought an entire stadium of people, many of them supposedly intelligent and college-educated, to tears.
Individually, I like all of these people. My roommate is one of them, and he’s a dear friend. But collectively, I want to — how would Borat put this? I want to crush them. I want to show no mercy. I want to (metaphorically) tear them limb from limb. This Sunday, IU has that chance.
So let this be the official ITH welcome to Illinois Week. Look lively. Sunday, we dine in hell.
Filed to: Illinois Illini