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Not just a bigger ballgame

Not just a bigger ballgame
Not just a bigger ballgame
Judy O'Bannon

To call it a ‘happening’ would be an understatement. It was a multi-layered, many-faceted extravaganza for all of Indiana. The Super Bowl may be over, but the rewards of the event are permanently embedded in our state.
Prior to last month, I hadn’t paid too much attention to all of the commotion about landing the ‘big game’ in Indianapolis. My image of it was a lot of cars, parties, drinking and cheering. All have their place, I guess, but, at my stage in life, they are not on my radar for times of fun or importance.
I knew that our restaurants and hotels here in Indy would be packed for a couple of days and that the income would be welcome during this downturn in the economy. I realized that, for a few hours, TV cameras would be pointed at Lucas Oil Stadium and Monument Circle. But, thanks to the vision of the Super Bowl Host Committee, opportunities, activities and accomplishments were created that extended far beyond the football field. It was a production worthy of the praise of our own Harrison Countian Larry Conrad.
For you young folks, let me tell you about Larry. Born by Laconia, he went on to write two amendments to the United States Constitution as a staffer for then-Sen. Birch Bayh. He ran for governor of Indiana, worked for the Simon brothers and helped put Indiana on the road to our recent Super Bowl by his work on the Pan American Games way back in 1987. The best part of Larry was his creative mind. He planned many events and sent ideas to everyone he knew. I was one of the beneficiaries of his advice to maximize every opportunity by looking for ‘spin-offs’ that could occur from the original idea.
Larry would have applauded when the chairman of this year’s Super Bowl stated at a public forum that one should never let a ‘good idea slip by because of logistics.’ We all know the person who kills a ‘good idea’ immediately with the negative statement that it would be impossible to execute. When you find a ‘good idea,’ go for it and work hard to make the thing happen. It is that old adage, ‘Where there is a will, there is a way.’ I think Harrison County’s own friends at Lucas Oil must epitomize that saying. It was the new wonderful stadium that bears the company’s name that sealed the deal in Indianapolis’ bid for the 2012 Super Bowl.
This year’s Super Bowl Committee, business people, entertainers, humanitarians, educators and citizens of all stripes found the ‘spin-offs’ of a championship football game and went for it ‘ and what a huge effect it has had on our state. Notice I said ‘state,’ not just the capital city.
Today, our security systems, public institutions, governmental agencies, businesses, health facilities, educational institutions, media organizations, sports accommodations and even roads are pumped up and will serve us all better in the future. All because we maximized the opportunities that a big-time football game could bring to us as we hosted it.
When you plan an event, how can you bring everyone into the act? What can little kids, old ladies, institutions and businesses do? Most everything in life is better when everyone gets invited to the party.
Here are just a few of the ‘spin-offs’ of the Super Bowl that one might not regularly think of:
‘The creation of a Legacy Project of neighborhood restoration in a deteriorated area known as the Near East Side of Indianapolis.
‘The organized training of hundreds of young adults as new leaders for the future.
‘The Super Cure initiative to fight breast cancer.
‘The painting of 46 outdoor wall murals.
‘The involvement of 20,000 people in hosting.
‘The creation of celebration activities in surrounding communities.
‘A fundraising drive titled ‘Souper Bowl of Caring’ to feed the hungry. We were part of that in Harrison County.
‘The web-based program 1st & Green that promotes the environment.
I guess it was the pre-game hype of these activities that fascinated us Hoosiers and brought us downtown to poke around and see what was going on.
I was one of those folks, and it was a blast! And what were Hoosiers doing? Strolling the streets, looking for friends to greet, eating a little as they pushed strollers and snapped photos of the sights, themselves and each other. The weather was great, and the smiling crowds bathed in it.
What a thrill it was for me to read a sports column in a Monterey, Calif., newspaper that described the atmosphere of the city during Super Bowl week. The sportswriter quickly described all of the hype surrounding the game, but the main emphasis of his article was something quite different: it was a description of how friendly Indianapolis was to its visitors. This included the city’s infrastructure, organization and planning. But, perhaps more importantly, he was struck by how friendly the people of Indianapolis are.
We will never have the sports media event of the world in Harrison County, but we can create the same positive environment on our square that drew folks to the Super Bowl: fun, friendly, organized and interesting. We call it ‘Hoosier Hospitality.’

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