January 31, 2007

Expert: Super Bowl match-up may divide some Hoosiers

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - For Hoosiers living in the northern part of the state, this year's Indianapolis Colts vs. Chicago Bears Super Bowl game is generating significant interest, but it also may produce conflicted feelings, says a Purdue professor who specializes in U.S. sports history.

"The Bears used to have a training facility in Rensselaer," says history professor Randy Roberts. "Before the Colts came to Indianapolis in the 1980s, the city didn't have an NFL team to call their own, so a lot of people rooted for Chicago. Many of those loyalties undoubtedly hold true today."

Roberts says that while most Hoosiers now consider the Colts Indiana's team, in far northern Indiana, many consider themselves part of Chicago. In southern parts of the state, like Evansville, fans tend to have historic allegiances to teams to the south, he says.

Roberts says the all-Midwest Super Bowl will still attract a lot of interest nationally.

"Teams from larger markets, like the New York Giants or the New England Patriots, usually draw a lot of viewers," he says. "Even though there are two teams from the Midwest, the fact remains that the Super Bowl is the biggest show of the year, and people tune in no matter who is playing."

Roberts says a lot of the attraction this year will come from the appeal of the Colts, and particularly quarterback Peyton Manning, who is a frequently seen on a variety of television commercials.

"Peyton Manning is a star, and both teams have a lot of class," he says. "Also, we have two teams this year with African-American coaches who are terrific role models. It speaks well of the NFL and what they are doing right."

Roberts was recently named 2006 Indiana Professor of the Year and has written or edited eight books on sports in America.

Writer: Kim Medaris, (765) 494-6998, kmedaris@purdue.edu

Source: Randy Roberts, (765) 423-7711, rroberts@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

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