From tip-off to kickoff, two of America’s most popular sports battle one another each and every day for the limelight.
Whether it be news about a football player’s ghastly injury or LeBron’s political views, football and basketball seem to not only immerse their viewers into their world, but also continuously force fans to choose a side, specifying a genre.
When it comes to cities like Cleveland, we automatically assume that it is a basketball town because of the Cavaliers. But what happens when the success of multiple teams is too great to define a city? Towns such as Boston or Chicago produce a variety of winning sports teams to symbolize their city.
So, which sport defines Illinois State: football or basketball?
To get a sense of the average student’s representation of our school’s sport, random ISU students answered the question on the Quad as definitively as they could during the rush hour in between classes.
Beginning with the bittersweet playoff run men’s basketball experienced last season, their latest triumph could turn into potential success for years to come.
Regardless of their loss to University of Central Florida in the second round of the NIT invitational tournament, coach Dan Muller and company started to attract national attention last spring as their record of 28-7 was among the best in the NCAA. In spite of just missing an invite to the NCAA Tournament, the Redbirds took the Missouri Valley Conference crown for the first time since 1998, seemingly putting themselves back on the college basketball map.
With the foundation set from last season’s buzz, sophomore business major Sean Gogola thinks that basketball has solidified itself as the top sport reigning over ISU.
“After all the excitement Paris Lee brought last year along with the tournament’s hype,” Gogola said, “I think that ISU is a basketball school, no doubt. The energy when you go to a basketball game is so amazing and I don’t think it compares to a football game.”
While basketball may have dribbled their way to greener pastures, the emergence of the football team’s recent success has undoubtedly made some noise around campus.
With back to back Missouri Valley Conference championships in 2014-15, an unmatched home record of 40-9 in eight seasons, four appearances in the FCS playoffs in the last five seasons and an extraordinary win over BIG 10 powerhouse Northwestern last year, ISU football has generated more than enough material to make this conversation relevant.
Since head coach Brock Spack joined the team in 2009, he has completely revamped the Redbird football program as the ’Birds are soaring higher than ever before.
Now 4-1 on the season, the team looks to regain focus after last week’s unexpected loss to Northern Arizona. Despite their latest slip, the Redbirds continue to dazzle and dance their way to the top of the Valley, where they have been the past three seasons.
Sophomore construction management major Joey Guanci nominates football as the school’s sport due to the amount of conference championships they have won in recent years.
“They won in 2014, 2015 and didn’t they win last year too?” Guanci said. “Even if they didn’t, I bet they did because judging from how good we’re doing so far this year; I’d pick football over basketball any day to represent ISU.”
Among the 20 students stopped in the Quad that answered the question, basketball won out by a margin of two votes, 12 to eight. Although a small sample size, the rich history of Redbird basketball, as well as last year’s winning season, served as the independent variable to crown basketball as ISU’s top sport.
In light of the debate, one thing remains constant: both the football and basketball teams are among the best in the Valley and their illustrious play represents our school’s everlasting pride, now and forever.