Sunday, January 28th, 2007
I’ve seen lots of stories about how various Indiana towns are split between Bears and Colts fans, but I didn’t expect to see this one about split team loyalties in Danville, Illinois [dead link]. I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising, though. Danville is about an hour or so from Indy straight down I-74. It’s a circuitous interstate route or surface highway trip from Chicago that clocks in about 2 1/2 hours – depending on how long you get stuck in traffic trying to leave Chicago. Indy is by far the more convenient city to get to. I believe the airport draws quite a few passengers from Danville.
I mention this because it is interesting to see how Colts fandom has expanded in the Peyton Manning era. Indiana was probably a Bears state before the Colts, with a few Cowboys, Redskins, 49ers, and Bengals fans thrown in. The memory of the ’85 Bears still runs deep in Indiana. So for the Colts, this is a huge game. They win, and they can start to solidify some of the loyalty in these outlying areas. Lose, and Bears fandom could make a comeback quickly.
What’s more, I think Danville fits the same mold of small, struggling, industrial city I mentioned earlier. Vermillion County, Illinois is also losing population. While economic cooperation across state lines is certainly more difficult, there’s no reason not to include Danville, Illinois in a more expansive view of the Central Indiana economic region. I should have mentioned it from the start.