Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sectional sports history

If you've never seen it, this would be the week to rent "Hoosiers," the story of a fabled Indiana basketball state championship featuring tiny Hickory High, enrollment 64, and South Bend Central, enrollment 2000 +. It has a great cast, with Gene Hackman as the coach of Hickory, and it spotlights a real phenomenon in American cultural history: the Indiana State High School Basketball Championship. You wouldn't know it unless you lived in Indiana, but basketball is not just a sport there, it's a religion. Every small, rural town lives vicariously through its high school team; on weekends, you see these long caravans of cars and trucks, headed either down the road to the away game site or the local fieldhouse. That's no joke: a lot of the schools have venues that seat up to l0,000 people. I've never seen anything quite like it anywhere I have been.

Up until a few years ago, the Indiana Championship was an all-comers affair, in other words everyone played in the same classification. There was no distinction between super-small and mega schools, so that there COULD be a David and Goliath scenario as you will see in Hoosiers. In the interest of fairness, officials changed the format recently, which many people regretted since the tourney lost some of its character and uniqueness. But you can still see a great story from the old days if you get hold of "Hoosiers." It should be playing on one of the movie channels most of the week, since we are almost ready for the Final Four in Atlanta.

Dedicated sports fans should watch the sched on ESPN Classic, too--I caught a few minutes of the ACTUAL "Hoosiers" championship from l954 last Sunday night. The schools' real names were Milan(David) and Lawrence Central(Goliath), if memory serves.

1 comment:

german said...

yes indeed high school athletics was quite like that. i orginally came from a high school that had 125. in jr high we even wore uniforms simalar to those in hoosiers. sadly i never played in a state championship in athletics but once we did beat lewiston's a and b squad in high school bowl. its kinda like team jeopardy. we did win the right to go to ohio to play but the coach thought it would be too much of a hardship to get funding to fly us to ohio for the tournament.