IBJOpinion

KATTERJOHN: Stupid Bowl not so stupid anymore

Chris Katterjohn
January 30, 2010
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In recent years, my two brothers have been fond of referring to the Super Bowl as The Stupid Bowl. Disgusted by the crass commercialism that has overtaken professional sports, they view The Stupid Bowl as the zenith of hype.

On one level, I can’t blame them. The spectacle can be gaudy, and the dollars flying around the game—from the victors’ diamond-studded rings to the $3 million price tag on a 30-second television spot—are mind-numbing.

But being more of an athlete in my day than either one of them ever was, I tend to forgive the negative aspects of pro sports and focus on the competition and the athleticism.

Lo and behold, this year is different for my bros; they are into it. They both watched the Indianapolis Colts beat the New York Jets on Jan. 24, and one of them even called me after the game to talk about it. It’s a New Age.

It just goes to show what winning can do for you.

For those of us who cheered the Baltimore Colts and remember the days when there were no Colts or stadium in Indianapolis, the evolution of this team and its impact on the community has been quite a journey.

Since arriving in Indianapolis in 1984, this franchise has slowly emerged from under the shadow of Baltimore and developed into one of the NFL’s elite organizations.

Look in the mirror: Indy is now a respected NFL town.

It hasn’t been easy; the early days were characterized by erratic performance on the field, and an owner, Robert Irsay, who was volatile, unpredictable and stingy.

But since the Tony Dungy era began in 2002, the team has won 99 regular-season games and lost only 29. The Colts have been in the playoffs eight years in a row and lay claim to two AFC Championships and one Super Bowl title.

And, now, in the dawning era of Coach Jim Caldwell, the team is off to the Big Game once again. Perhaps most remarkable, the city is hosting the Super Bowl in 2012.

But it’s much more than the stellar win-loss record that separates the Colts from the rest of the pack and at the same time raises our city to the upper echelon of the NFL.

By all accounts, the Colts are a class organization from top to bottom. Dungy, who was hired by current owner Jim Irsay, was the poster boy of class. Few coaches were more respected in the league; he was a good man and a winner.

Above the coach in the Colts organization is General Manager Bill Polian, whom most people in the NFL consider a first-rate student of the game and a savvy judge of talent when it comes to the draft.

Atop the Colts family sits Jim Irsay, a guy who has lived and breathed NFL football and the Colts since he was a kid. In charge since his father died 13 years ago, he has concocted a winning formula by being his father’s polar opposite.

Published reports—including IBJ’s award-winning profile from Jan. 16, 2006, and a piece in the Jan. 25, 2010, Sports Illustrated—portray Irsay as a unique guy who is into music and poetry just as much as football.

He’s had his issues, but as a musician and a bit of a rebel myself, I have more than a little empathy for a successful businessman who plays music, has an enviable guitar collection, and can quote Dylan Thomas poetry as readily as rock ’n’ roll lyrics.

In the SI profile, he talks a lot about the “magic” in life. At the end of our profile four years ago, Irsay said, “We want this [team] to be a vehicle that pulls this community together.”

Judging from what I’ve seen and heard around this town over the last few weeks, I’d say he’s accomplished that goal and worked up some magic at the same time. Heck, even my brothers are going to watch the Stupid Bowl, and that’s saying something.•

__________

Katterjohn is publisher of IBJ. To comment on this column, send e-mail to ckatterjohn@ibj.com.

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  1. Really, taking someone managing the regulation of Alcohol and making himthe President of an IVY Tech regional campus. Does he have an education background?

  2. Jan, great rant. Now how about you review the report and offer rebuttal of the memo. This might be more conducive to civil discourse than a wild rant with no supporting facts. Perhaps some links to support your assertions would be helpful

  3. I've lived in Indianapolis my whole and been to the track 3 times. Once for a Brickyard, once last year on a practice day for Indy 500, and once when I was a high school student to pick up trash for community service. In the past 11 years, I would say while the IMS is a great venue, there are some upgrades that would show that it's changing with the times, just like the city is. First, take out the bleachers and put in individual seats. Kentucky Motor Speedway has individual seats and they look cool. Fix up the restrooms. Add wi-fi. Like others have suggested, look at bringing in concerts leading up to events. Don't just stick with the country music genre. Pop music would work well too I believe. This will attract more young celebrities to the Indy 500 like the kind that go to the Kentucky Derby. Work with Indy Go to increase the frequency of the bus route to the track during high end events. That way people have other options than worrying about where to park and paying for parking. Then after all of this, look at getting night lights. I think the aforementioned strategies are more necessary than night racing at this point in time.

  4. Talking about congestion ANYWHERE in Indianapolis is absolutely laughable. Sure you may have to wait in 5 minutes of traffic to travel down BR avenue during *peak* times. But that is absolutely nothing compared to actual big cities. Indy is way too suburban to have actual congestion problems. So please, never bring up "congestion" as an excuse to avoid development in Indianapolis. If anything, we could use a little more.

  5. Oh wait. Never mind.

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