Growing up, not getting older

By Roger Grossman
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — One of the goals we should have as young human beings is to grow to be adult human beings.

I know that sounds as silly to read as it was for me to write but follow with me and see where I am going with this line of thinking.

As children, we wanted to get to a point in our lives where we could think on our own, make decisions on our own, and generally act independently. That would open the door for us to be responsible and show responsibility.

That process, in simplest terms, is called “growing up.”

It’s a process that does not come naturally. It takes effort. It takes some self-motivation. It requires guidance by others who have been through it themselves—parents and older siblings, for example.

Most of the time, the timeline of “growing up” is a steady one that ramps upward gradually— although occasionally events occur that force a younger person to grow up faster or sooner than normal. The example of this is a 16-year-old son whose father dies and he is challenged to perform duties around the house that he wouldn’t have without that tragic event occurring.

In sports, we see this every season in every sport at every level. People graduate, and younger players must fill the vacancy. Rookies and undrafted players must step in when a teammate is injured or gets traded mid-season.

It happens all of the time.

But notice, there is a huge difference between growing up and getting older.
Getting older takes very little effort outside of self-preservation. Natural bodily development happens simply by eating, drinking, staying clothed properly and having adequate shelter based on present conditions.

I want to bring to your attention a case of this happening in sports right now, where people are not thinking clearly and are showing that they have grown older but have not grown up.

The Indiana University Athletic Department and its men’s basketball coach are the obvious examples of this.

Back in October, I really thought the IU men’s basketball team had an opportunity to make the NCAA tournament. I didn’t anticipate them making a long run in the tournament, but I certainly thought they would do enough to receive an invitation.

They didn’t.

And when they didn’t (and no one thought they were snubbed on Selection Sunday by the way), their season was over…but it didn’t have to beI mean, there were 32 other teams who also didn’t do enough to make the tournament and they were invited to play in the NIT. Indiana State, for example, is playing in the NIT Final Four at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

IU could have been there too, except for the fact that IU men’s basketball doesn’t participate in a postseason tournament if can’t be in the NCAA tournament.

Let me pose that to you in more applicable language: “I wanna be in March Madness, and if I can’t be in March Madness I just wanna stay home!”

By all reports, IU men’s basketball coach Mike Woodson made the decision to not be available for the NIT brackets.

IU basketball … GROW UP!

What Woodson is saying without actually saying it is “this group of players isn’t going to get any better by practicing a few more days and playing in a few more games, so we’re shutting it down.”

Not a good look…not good at all.

And with not a single player now in the recruiting class for the fall, the Hoosiers are destined to see who they can pluck out of the transfer portal so they don’t have to have an intramural tryout or fit the student managers with uniforms to fill their roster for next season.

Where are the “parents” in this? Where is the athletic director? Where is the board? Shouldn’t someone be saying “we are eligible for the NIT, and the NIT wants us in their tournament, so we’re playing. And if you can’t coach them in the NIT with a clear conscious, we’ll find someone who will.”

Minnesota got an extra week of practice, got national exposure, and they got better by being in the NIT. So did Ohio State and Minnesota. That’s who IU will be battling with in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten next year and the Hoosiers are the ones who didn’t do everything they could to take the players they have and develop them into better players.

But, on a more positive note, there will exactly NO expectations for the IU men next year to start the season.

Even if a couple of big fish from the portal jump into their boat, there is no return to glory for IU basketball coming in the fall, or in the fall after that.

So IU fans, relax and be prepared to be the underdog at home to Northwestern and even-money against the likes of Penn State and Minnesota.

And tell your men’s basketball coach and athletic director to “grow up.”