Spears’ Speil: Unity is why it’s called the “Greatest College Weekend”
By: Matt Spears
I couldn’t tell you more than a handful of individuals participating in this year’s men’s and women’s Little 500 races.
For one, all of the fraternity and sorority names confuse the hell out of me when trying to keep track of each team’s riders. Second, the Little 500 races aren’t even about the actual races themselves.
That’s not intended to be a slight to any of the competitors who fully deserve all credit and admiration they receive for competing in the 25th and 62nd running of the women’s and men’s races, respectively. Nor is it a jab at the work, effort and time these athletes put into their craft — a craft many riders literally hone year-round.
In fact, I think it’s good that individual stars don’t headline the races. There are no widespread roster rankings pinpointing who the best bicyclists are and who ought to ride the pine.
This isn’t the NBA where you need superstars to sell tickets. This isn’t the NFL where you need a great quarterback to lead your team to victory. This isn’t even like college sports where good isn’t good enough and your guts and spirit are quickly dismissed if you aren’t winning it all.
Little Five is the quintessential team sport despite only one person competing at any given time.
It not only brings individuals together to form a racing squad. It brings fraternities, sororities, dormitories and independents together. It brings an entire university together in a way that’s hard to replicate.
There’s a reason it’s known as America’s Greatest College Weekend and it’s not just because it offers a great excuse to drink — though I’m sure a few people might dispute that.
Celebrating Little Five extends beyond whatever team you identify with. The weekend is a celebration of unity and good feelings.
Outside of the men’s basketball program making a tournament run, I challenge you to point out something that brings Bloomington’s campus to life like race weekend.
Of course, if not for the individual racers, the race itself could not happen. But even for the riders, Little 500 is more than just the race itself.
Any competitor will tell you their goal is to win. But ask any of them, and they’ll tell you the race’s meaning goes beyond the checkered flag and final results. What they’ll ultimately remember is the instilled pride that comes with the training and hard work they put in.
They will talk about the rides on 45/46, Kirkwood Avenue and around campus — regardless of weather conditions — the support they received from their family and friends and the bonds they forged during the process.
For the riders, the fans and those who simply enjoy the week’s atmosphere, Little Five week and the race weekend are about so much more than the bike race itself.
The fact is I can’t tell you much, if anything, about the 2012 Little 500 participants. However, I can tell you that the spirit and enthusiasm it generates throughout campus is something to relish and take pride in.
Enjoy it, Indiana.
Last 5 posts by mspears
- Spears' Spiel: What is going on with the Orlando Magic? - April 9th, 2012
- Spears' Spiel: NCAA basketball title game will be one to remember - April 2nd, 2012
- Spears' Spiel: IU’s Stellar Season won’t Guarantee NCAA Tournament Success - March 5th, 2012
- Spears' Spiel: Who Really Won the Dunk Contest? - February 27th, 2012
- The Spears Spiel: Weekend Nuggets from across the World of Sports - February 20th, 2012