Hoosier Hysteria is not a unique thing.
Countless other men’s and women’s basketball programs around the country host “midnight madness” events to get fans, students, players and most importantly recruits hyped up for the coming season.
Indiana just so happens to be able to use alliteration, nostalgia for days gone by and one of the most historic arenas in the sport. But frankly, those aren’t tipping the scales for the younger crowd and they haven’t for quite some time.
Sure, Tom Crean was able to lean on Indiana’s illustrious history as he set about rebuilding the men’s basketball program after it reached perhaps its lowest point, but that was well over a decade ago.
The players Crean was recruiting around the state and country had parents or other figures in their lives that remembered the true glory days of Indiana men’s basketball. As the years have gone by, that’s become less true.
If Indiana fully, solely embraces its history and traditions rather than looking forward at what a younger, more modern audience wants, those older sections of IU’s fanbase will be in the stands and engaged throughout the season. But that’s not necessary at all, those fans will do so regardless, that’s not who you need to appeal to.
What Indiana needs to do is go for that younger generation, lining up attractions that excite them. As a member of that younger cohort, the glory days of the men’s basketball program for us included Vic Oladipo going for highlight-reel dunks, Cody Zeller being Big and Tom Crean patrolling the sideline doing Tom Crean things.
Indiana was fun to watch and quite good, but everything we know about Indiana’s past was taught to us by our parents, grandparents and absolutely relentless university advertisement. That isn’t what engages us though.
I do not know who specifically had the idea to book G Herbo for Hoosier Hysteria. But it doesn’t matter if it was an assistant, someone in the creative team or even Mike Woodson himself. What matters is that it was an idea and Indiana made it happen.
Your takeaway from that can be either “Oh cool, they booked a musical act” or “Someone in this program understands that it’s gotta modernize and that’s a very, very good thing.”
You’re not getting Gen Z in seats at Assembly Hall by talking about Bob Knight, the undefeated season or whatever, that’s not gonna cut it. You can’t ignore the history because it’s useful for some audiences, but not this one.
Hoosier Hysteria is honestly mostly for the recruits. Fans get to have fun out of it, sure, but anyone who shows up for Hoosier Hysteria was probably going to show up to games anyway.
If you trot a bunch of high school players into Assembly Hall and wax poetic about the days of Knight, you’re gonna bore them and they’ll seek excitement elsewhere. Now, those recruits are actively trying to get to Hoosier Hysteria instead of simply being invited as a recruiting event.
That’s some big time stuff.
Other programs have been doing similar things for years, it’s high time that Indiana added itself to the list of teams booking artists to appeal to younger fans/recruits. Someone in the program gets that, and all of you should be very happy about that.
This isn’t just a men’s basketball thing, the two programs share the event and we’d really appreciate it if other outlets made a point of making that crystal clear. The Blogger Boyz TM are doing our best, but we’d like some more coverage please. Thanks.