I’ve been an Indiana Hoosier for three years, but through every basketball game I’ve attended, I have had some unusual companions who arguably have the best seats in the house. I’m not talking about the guy who sings the national anthem. I’m talking about big heads.
These cartoon-esque, blown-up images of celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift and Kanye West add a whole new meaning to having a home-court advantage.
On Monday, the New York Times published a piece that explored the lineage of the aforementioned big heads. It tokens them as the next big thing.
These heads have had a longstanding history — just take a look at “Happy Gilmore.” Marquette University’s former Associate Athletic Director Craig Pinten has supported big heads since 2005.
Although there are positives to using these heads for some sort of distraction tactic, not to mention the great Instagram opportunity it gives behind-the-basket fans at the end of games, there are negatives as well.
At the end of last month, a rival game between two Merrillville, Indiana, Catholic schools shows how politically negative these big heads can be.
Andrean High School fans took this rival game to an inappropriate level by bringing a Donald Trump fat head and chanting things like “No comprende, please speak English” and “Build that wall” to the Latino Bishop Noll Institute basketball fans.
I’m not blaming this abysmal behavior to big heads, but I am recognizing that inappropriate cheers can accompany them, which leads to a larger political discussion about setting an example.
Whether we like it or not, those big heads we hold up at basketball games are our superiors in some way. We make them bigger as actors of intimidation and idolization. Even the huge Kilroy’s logo or the taco can arguably lead to a bigger debate, for sheer drunken necessity, about whose quesadillas are better — Roy’s or T-Bell’s?
I’m embarrassed to go to school in a state where Donald Trump is being used as a trope to harass my minority peers. Not only has his political prowess graced the screens of our Twitter feeds, but also his false ideology and perception of power is seeping into the minds of young people across the globe.
These heads are used to divert the focus of the rival team. If Donald Trump’s big head is being used as a distraction tactic in college basketball, maybe we need to take a step back and realize his entire presence on the political stage is a big distraction as well.
We’re loosing appreciation for the true game of basketball. It should be about the caliber of players on the court, not about the size of the heads on the sidelines. In tandem with the upcoming election, we need to ask ourselves: do we really want Donald Trump to pose as a funny distraction from real political issues?
Sure, building a wall might sound like something you’d say as a 5-year-old playing with Legos. But it also sounds like something we’ve mistaken for a joke.
The presence of these fat heads, although entertaining, need to stop being politicized in a time where politics is looking less like the real deal and more like a quasi-arena for reality television.
This article was originally published as a column for the Indiana Daily Student on 10 March 2016.