So long, Seattle

Though my thoughts about Seattle had previously been developed only through what I read about the city or saw of the city on television, the transformation it went through in my mind hit me this morning as I walked out into the cool air of a day that, I could tell, would proceed on with a brilliant blue and carefree sky.

In the 1990s, Seattle was the home of grunge, of Nirvana and Pearl Jam and of all the angst that my generation felt like it should feel. I can’t remember anymore what I thought grunge stood for — I know there was flannel involved — or what anybody had to be so peeved about. This was a decade where the major news stories consisted of a clean little war, OJ and a too-snug glove and a president’s unique internship program.

But in recent years, Seattle has become known mostly, I think, for coffee. It gave us Starbucks and whatever Starbucks stands for. On Thursday I meandered into a shopping center near my hotel — one of those outdoor malls that have become so popular — and headed toward a map and directory booth. Before I could reach it, though, I felt them: there were three — 3! — Starbucks within eyesight. No, eyesight is probably not the right description. I could have easily hit all three with a baseball from where I was standing. Granted, one was inside a Barnes & Noble book store but it still should count.

On my ride to the airport this morning, I was reminded of a line that Kelvin Sampson once said during a press conference. I think it is the only thing he said about the forced resignation of Rob Senderoff, the assistant coach who was the first sacrifice in this sordid ordeal.

“There is no fun in that,” Sampson said.

There was no fun in Seattle, I think, for most of the people involved in the hearing. Maybe they hit a restaurant they’d heard a lot about or went to a baseball game or caught up with a long-lost friend. But for the most part, it was grueling.

Trying to report the story was interesting, but certainly uncomfortable in many ways. There is absolutely no fun in waiting outside to get people to talk (although I will note that we never shouted questions at anyone, the way reporters do in television shows and the movies).

When you read through the documents associated with this case or try to understand the NCAA bylaws in question or read through the literature explaining the procedures of the hearing you inevitably forget that people’s livelihoods are, in many cases, at stake. An incredibly emotional story gets lost in the fray of a regimented, stoic process.

A few minutes ago, I stopped at the bookstore. I almost bought What Happened, the tell-all book by former White House spokesman Scott McClellan. (Ultimately I chose Falling Man, Don DeLillo’s novel about 9/11. We all, I suppose have a timetable for when we might be ready to read something like that. Although I also suppose we never really know how prepared or unprepared we are until it is too late.)

In three months, I think maybe new versions of How Indiana Basketball Was Almost Destroyed will emerge from some of the people involved.

But I wonder: will it deepen our understanding of what happened or only cloud it further?


  1. Good stuff Chris. Enjoyed your coverage of the hearing. You were able to make it interesting, even though nothing big actually went down.

  2. Thanks for the updates. It’s an ugly process, that makes it hard to be a fan. Since about a year ago, there’s just been very good little news regarding IU hoops. Here’s hoping this is the low point. Whatever the damage, the best thing about the sanctions happening is that it’ll finally be over, and the focus can finally move on to rebuilding.

    can’t remember anymore what I thought grunge stood for — I know there was flannel involved — or what anybody had to be so peeved about.

    I think it was that during the early ’90’s, capitalism had beaten communism, but there weren’t enough McJobs to go around. I remember a sense of “We won- now what’s left for us?” But then the internet came along, and we all lived happily ever after.

  3. Guys,

    All I can say is “Oh, man!”. As a faithful alum (’97) and current Seattleite, I had spent hours trying to find out where the meetings were going to take place in town. Had I known you’d be out our way (hadn’t read the blog in a bit, what with our crappy baseball season in full swing) I’d have cordially asked you to join me for homemade pork tenderloins and assorted Hoosier delicacies! Anyway, kudos on this blog! The IDS has come a long way since my era. Keep up the great work.


  4. For all those few like HoosierFan saying Kelvin did no or little wrong, why was Sampson scurrying down alleyways and having lookouts for him. Not even a Mafia don does that.

    Sampson reminds me of a rat.

Comments are closed.