Schwartz: ‘Good Enough’ for Marble

March 8, 2015

Written by David Schwartz

Saturday afternoon in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, I stood with my family at halftime of Iowa’s win against Northwestern and cheered for the greatest scorer in the history of Hawkeye basketball, Roy Marble.

The ceremony lasted almost 2 minutes, about the same amount of time they gave some blindfolded fan a chance to find a basketball and win a prize.

Then it was over.

And Marble was gone.

It’s not difficult to understand why the University of Iowa athletic department chose to honor Marble. He’s Iowa’s all-time leading scorer, the father of one of Iowa’s best players of the last decade, and sick.

The UI framed a replica of Marble’s jersey and gave it to him. Wouldn’t retire it, God forbid. Just kinda gave it to him.

Nor could the UI athletic department be bothered to put together a 90-second highlight video. Marble and athletic director Gary Barta walked out, the public-address announcer read a few stats and words that anyone could have Googled, the crowd cheered loudly, and that was that.

Make a darn video. Bring in a couple of his old teammates. Do something. Do anything. Marble’s Hawkeye career ended a quarter-century ago. Fans who were there back then might have enjoyed seeing him soar again; fans who weren’t might have gotten a kick out of seeing a few clips of the only player in Iowa history to score more than 2,000 career points.

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The thought and effort put into the halftime production was about as low as low can get. At least they didn’t fire his jersey at him from a t-shirt cannon.

What was the goal here? If we’re speaking candidly, the UI likely wanted to honor Marble while he’s still alive. Former Chicago Cubs player and broadcaster Ron Santo wanted nothing more in his later life than to enter the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Veterans Committee finally voted him in AFTER he died, and it was so sad that he didn’t get to feel the joy of that honor.

A couple of years ago my wife and I traveled to Columbus, Ohio for an Iowa-Ohio State football game. You probably remember it: it’s the one when Iowa was running three-tight end sets and nearly shocked the world by upsetting the Buckeyes. Anyway, we were completely blown away by the technical production values of their in-stadium marketing. Their videos soliciting donations were so well produced, their videos showing highlight packages so jammed with intensity, I joked to my wife I was ready to write them a check right there for their scholarship fund.

I bring this up only because Saturday afternoon we saw the opposite. Halftime consisted of the blindfolded dude, the cheer squads honoring their seniors with a nice routine, and Marble squeezed in at the end.

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He deserved more.

More than 2 minutes.

He deserved to see his jersey in the rafters, not in a frame.

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He deserved the chance to hear 15,000 Iowa fans ooh and ah at highlights of his fast-break dunks, one last time.

I feel like such a Grinch finding fault in the athletic department’s effort, but let’s be honest, this was a buttoned-up corporate production of what should have been a deeply personal and emotional event.

I guess when it comes down to it, I’m not mad – just sad. Maybe I’m overthinking it, because it’s beautiful Marble got to soak in the Carver cheers Saturday afternoon.

Still, why honor Roy Marble only halfway? Did someone in the UI athletic department think good enough would really be good enough?

• Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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