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Column: Creating #IUBB

Sure, it’s just four letters representing Indiana University basketball, but understand that the seemingly insignificant creation and subsequent popularity of #iubb is something not seen within any other basketball program’s online community, to my knowledge.

Although hashtagging a school name or nickname has become commonplace — #Badgers, #BoilerUp, etc. — it does not specify a team or sport within that athletic department.

During the summer, when IU Coach Tom Crean’s recruiting bonanza was picking up steam, an IU commit for the class of 2012 began using the hashtag “#TheMovement” — a trend that quickly caught on with both fellow recruits and fans alike.

In Nov. 2010, when now-freshman Cody Zeller made his decision to play for IU instead of the University of North Carolina, the name “Cody Zeller” trended worldwide on Twitter.

If that doesn’t display how plugged in IU fans are to the ’Net, I don’t know what does.
Whether through popular humorous fake accounts or official feeds administered by the IU Athletics Department, the IU basketball universe has been permanently integrated into Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere.

Not only have IU sports enthusiasts embraced the endless opportunities presented to them through these Internet venues, but they’ve made them an unavoidable component of being an informed and involved fan.

For many, Twitter has become the fastest way to consume information, which is then funneled into a blog post or online article containing more detailed information and finally, at least for print publications, a full article.

Heck, if you’re one of a growing number of online publications, the published story will be online before the sun sets on game day.

If you crave content from fans giving their own unfiltered opinions and analyses, look no further than the multitude of message boards and blogs that somehow double in size, faster than a bar tab at Kilroy’s.

The appetite for online content has even gotten to the point where Internet live chats are arranged during IU basketball games so that fans can interact with sports writers as the game is played.

It’s strange to think this swirling abyss of online chatter, rants and information is all centered around a group of five college students trying to put a ball in the hoop more times than their opponents.

So is the way of our changing world — and IU fans have the distinct honor of being part of one of the most tech-savvy collegiate programs in the country.

The count as of Monday night:
Tom Crean’s Twitter account? 40,861 followers.
University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari? 1,139,966.
Butler Coach Brad Stevens? 16,422.
Illinois Coach Bruce Weber and Purdue Coach Matt Painter?
Neither have tweeted since 2009, but both have more than 5,000 followers.

What about 84-year-old Penn State Football Coach Joe Paterno?

Well, during 2009 Big Ten Media Days, college sports’ favorite grandpa had this to say about Twitter: “You guys have to talk about something. The fans have got to put something on those, what do you guys call those things, Twittle-do? Twittle-dee? I haven’t got the slightest idea what you’re looking at.”

Well, Coach, what I’m looking at is a platform of communication that unites a community and continues to serve as an open forum amongst journalists, fans and players.

Avi Zaleon is a senior in journalism.

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