Monday, March 29, 2010

The Road Home

If you have never seen Hoosiers a fair question to ask of yourself is, "What the hell is the matter with me?" You can make amends - and given that this is apparently a week of some significance on the calendars of at least two major religions what better time is there to do so than this? Forget all of the Biblical reasons for finally doing the right thing cinematically. The Butler University Bulldogs, whose place of residence is Indianapolis, are participating in their first ever Final Four on Easter Weekend in their hometown (cue the John Mellencamp discography at your leisure).

Is it reasonable to anticipate that Butler will be able to knock off Michigan State and the winner of Duke/West Virginia within 48 hours in order to win the National Championship? Probably not. But it was not likely that the #5 seeded Bulldogs would defeat #1 seed Syracuse and #2 seed Kansas State just to capture their Region. Yet when the music stopped they were the ones using their chairs to reach the rims in order to cut down the nets. And when one realizes that Butler is the only team this side of the Connecticut Huskies (Distaff Division) in Division I college basketball not to lose in 2010, suddenly the Bulldogs' impossible task seems a bit less so.

Butler's relationship to its fictional counterparts from Hickory is not entirely metaphorical. In the film, the Indiana State Championship game is contested at Butler's Fieldhouse. To take the "Gee Whiz" reaction off of his players' faces, upon entering the gym Coach Norman Dale has his biggest guy Stretch put his smallest guy Ollie on his shoulders and while Ollie is perched atop of Stretch, Ollie is handed up a measuring tape, which he uses to confirm that the distance from the floor to the rim is 10 feet. After conducting a second experiment to confirm that the distance from the foul line to the baseline at the Butler Fieldhouse is 15 feet, Coach Dale reminds his kids that each of those measurements is the same at the Fieldhouse as it is as their tiny home gymnasium in Hickory. A corny yet effective lesson in perspective and the importance of maintaining it.

In Hollywood the happy ending is often pre-ordained. It was for the Hickory Hoosiers. Whether it shall be for the Butler Bulldogs remains to be seen. Life is a bit trickier proposition. More adventurous casting. Incomplete writing.

-AK

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