The Daily Illini

Illini losing culture: an epidemic of white noise

By Eli Schuster, Sports editor

The temperature reads 35 degrees as the blades on my desk fan whip around.

I can’t sleep without a white noise. On cold nights, I’ll wear a sweatshirt.

I don’t mean to get too personal. My night-time routine probably isn’t very fascinating to you,  but that’s probably for the best.

I need the white noise, it’s as simple as that. As I turn it on each night, it only takes seconds to fade into the background.

It isn’t until the morning that I wake up and process the noise once again. I’ll turn it off and eventually feel like it’s time to get moving until later that night it’ll all happen again.

It didn’t use to be this way. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I really began to rely on the consistent comfort that came from this white noise. It’s a possibly dramatized explanation, but it has become a part of my life.

Turn my fan off and things won’t go according to plan. Forget about sleep. Forget about comfort. Forget about a sense of familiarity.

I know I’m not the only one that has fallen victim to the white noise reliance, and I won’t be the last. Plenty of popular white noises exist, like the fan, static, weather and losing.

If you were worried about where this was going, alas, I have finally gotten to the point.

Losing for Illini athletics is a white noise.

For Illinois’ football and basketball, it has been years since they have been on top of the Big Ten in reputation. A losing culture has swept through both programs, and the white noise of losing has rung in the background of each season.

Losing has become comfortable. When the season starts and the noise begins, it feels right and expected. Coaches and players alike get swept up into habits; breaking the mental wall that’s built to keep losing inside is no easy task, but it has to be done.

Fighting Illini men’s basketball head coach Brad Underwood referenced this almost immediately as he stepped foot onto the University campus. He told his players that they don’t know how to win and time after time he would mention in press conferences that part of his job would be to get rid of the losing culture.

For Lovie Smith, he has stood by the motto “We Will Win” since being put at the helm of the program. As of now, a combined five wins during his first two seasons with the team have said otherwise.

It’s much easier said than done, I understand that. As I go into my room every single night, I expect for the white noise to help me fall asleep. And as Illinois begins another season the eerily subdued white noise of losing creeps back in and helps bring an element of familiarity.

Although, if you ask me, it’s time to turn off the fan. In fact, it may be time for Smith and Underwood to destroy the fan.

Remember, when turning off the fan things won’t go according to plan and that may be exactly what the Fighting Illini football and basketball programs need.

For me, on the other hand, I’ll keep my fan in place. Who knows, if the Illini get rid of their white noise, chances are I’ll be a bit busier and need mine more than ever.

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