Okay, not exactly the same. Perhaps the reaction could justifiably range from the applause when a guy makes a putt for bogey and someone making an eagle to win the Masters. Perhaps an audible gasp or moan prior to that courteous clap might even involuntarily slip out given the surprise and disappointment. Admittedly, it won’t be easy to generate a thunderous roar if Romeo Langford announces “Vanderbilt” or “Kansas” rather than Indiana.
But if you can bring yourself to drive to New Albany and boo an 18 year old that wants to share his college decision with his community then we have one message for you — Stay Home.
Look at that photo at the top of this story. It was taken before New Albany’s 65-64 win over Princeton at the Doghouse back in January.
Through all of the madness that was the last couple years of Romeo Langford’s recruitment, we felt that nothing better captured it than this snapshot. A larger than life hero with with an entire community at his back, following his every move. Congratulations to Josh Hicks of the News and Tribune for illustrating this saga so well.
The photo also captures a scene that only happens in Indiana. Langford has been playing before sold-out crowds for years. This is in a state where the high school gyms range from 4,000 to 8,000 and more. Standing room only every night to see a once-in-a-generation high school player. People sharing stories of the night that they got to see Romeo play. Hoosier Hysteria lives on.
Those big crowds reflect how much we care about the game and the young men and women who play it. The passion is palpable in just about any gymnasium in any town on any weekend in the Hoosier state. They didn’t build those massive high school gyms hoping that people would show up. They knew they would.
And we know that New Albany’s Doghouse will be full again on Monday night for Langford’s announcement at 7 PM. Somehow there will probably be 5,000+ in the 4,100 seat gym. And each and every one of those people will not only be bringing their person — they’ll also be bringing their passion.
If you’ve seen the movie Hoosiers, then you probably remember the character Shooter. You know him, the drunk that “knew everything there is to know about the greatest game ever invented.” You may think that he was just another Hollywood dramatization. We’re telling you it was no accident. Shooter was based on reality. And Shooter will almost certainly be there on Monday night. And he thinks he knows everything there is to know about what is best for Romeo Langford.
In an era where too many of our athletes are arrogant, narcissistic, chest-pumping, stare down your opponent egomaniacs, Langford is the opposite. If you can find no other reason to support the decision of this young man, that should be enough. He is everything that we want our athletes and celebrities to be, and somehow he has figured it out at 18, while others never get it.
Of course we know the overarching reason why Langford carries himself with such dignity and grace. We know why he signs autographs for hours after games, and gives up his time in the local community. This apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.
We’ve heard the cheap shots taken at his family, suggesting that they are just milking all of this for attention. Stop it. When your high school kid becomes the focus of the college basketball world we’ll see how you handle it. They’ve raised a great kid. As a father of young children, I know that I am taking notes.
Oh, and his parents and the rest of his family will be there Monday — and they will hear you Shooter, stealing the thunder of an 18 year old. You know better. And they deserve better.
If you can’t bring yourself to be a decent person for any other reason, then consider a selfish one. Other people will be watching on Monday night. People like Keion Brooks, Jr., Trayce Jackson-Davis, Trendon Watford and others. And their parents will be watching too.
While Romeo is a big deal for the 2018-19 season, these guys are the future. These are the kids that will build upon a solid 2018 recruiting class, Romeo or not, and create momentum with in-state recruiting efforts and the overall trajectory of the program. They will hear you Shooter, and they will wonder if they want to be subjected to your silliness too.
Hopefully all of this is pointless. Hopefully we will all be jumping up and down, screaming at the top of our lungs after watching that amazing eagle to win the Masters. And hopefully Shooter will have decided to stay home and watch a live stream on the internet…
But if it turns out that a nice young man decided to tell the people in his home town that he is going to college at Kansas or Vanderbilt, give the kid a hand.
And if you think you just can’t muster the emotional maturity to do that — then stay home. Stay home and boo at your computer screen while watching a live stream.
Or better still, stay home and boo at a mirror.
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