Iowan Semi-Sports Bring Variety for all Sports fans

Iowa has many things to be proud of: a leading agricultural sector, being the nation’s second largest wind power producer, pioneering marriage equality, and not to mention one of the biggest state fairs in the country. For all things Iowa does have, it lacks one major distinction:a professional sports team. Iowa has never had a single pro sports organization in its entire history, forcing sports fans to satisfy themselves with university and out of state athletics. But hope is not completely lost. In the shadows live the semi-pro sports teams, Iowa’s downgraded substitution of pro sports franchises. It is often the case that these organizations are forgotten and ignored by many sports fans."I don’t really know any of those kind of [semi-pro] teams," senior Andrew Rofl said. "Even If I did I probably wouldn’t care too much about them. I’m more of a pro sports kind of guy." However, the world of semi-sports in Iowa hold as much importance to state wide athletics as our dear Hawkeyes and Cyclones. With over 15 semi-sports teams state-wide, here are two of our states major semi-pro organizations. The Iowa Energy Founded in June 2007, the Energy were Iowa’s first ever developmental basketball league team (D-league). In a state unaccustomed to basketball not played by an university team, the energy’s home debut was a surprising hit among Iowans. The inaugural home opener which saw the Energy winning their second game drew a D-league record 8,842 fans. The creation of the team itself, however, did not begin on an especially good note. When the team initially held their "Name the Team" contest, the choices were Corncobs, Maize, Scarecrows, Thoroughbreds, and the ever popular River Rats. However, these great choices to represent Iowa’s only basketball organization were unfortunately removed from contention due to general fan dislike and in June 2007 the official name and logo of The Energy was unveiled. However since their inauspicious birth, the Energy have been doing very well in terms of other D-league basketball teams. With attendance the top 30% of D-league teams the Energy have quickly made their home in Wells Fargo Arena. The Energy recently made the D-league playoffs with a 28-22 record for the first time in team history lead by former ISU star Curtis Stinson. Though the Energy lost in the first round of the playoffs to Dakota, the team and fans certainly can see the bright future ahead for the Energy. The Iowa Chops The Chops are currently one of Iowa two semi-pro hockey organizations. However, the Chops did not come into existence under their current namesake. The Chops were previously The Iowa Stars, an affiliate of the popular NHL team The Dallas Stars. The Stars were an unexpected hit among Iowan hockey fans and made the playoffs every year except one. However, the Stars franchise felt the need to be closer to their Dallas Texas base and after the 2007-2008 season, the Dallas Stars left the Iowa scene. However, Iowa semi-pro hockey was only dead temporarily. On July 9, 2008, The Iowa Chops were unveiled, featuring a vicious boar as its logo. Though the logo seemingly takes its name from pork chops, the Chops have been a great success among fans. Though the Chops have not made a post season appearance, attendance has seen a 30% increase from the days of the Iowa Stars. With in-game entertainment consisting of middle aged men dancing with their shirts off in the middle of the rink (aka "The Porkbellies") and and an annual pork chop eating contest, the Chops have certainly found their place among the state’s hockey fans. The Energy and the Chops are only two of the many semi-pro sports franchises in Iowa including the I-cubs, Des Moines Menace, and BarnStormers. Though forgotten by many, semi-pro athletics have proven their worth to the numerous fans who make up their avid fan base. Iowa may not have a professional sports team to call its own but semi-pro sports are one of the important components that make Iowa sports what they are: passionate, respectful, and loyal fan hood.