811 TEN-MILLIONTHS OF ONE-PERCENT: THE IHSAA GOT IT RIGHT

"THE DEAN'S LIST" WITH DEAN HOCKNEY Sports Journal Publisher

The IHSAA got this one right, and now it is time for our state legislators to cease and desist. Yes, I am talking to you, Indiana State Senator Mike Delph from Carmel and all of the other one-class basketball fans from around the state who just can’t accept change. Get over it – class basketball is here to stay.

Last week, Indiana High School Athletic Association Commissioner Bobby Cox issued his final report on the study of the boys and girls basketball tournament formats. And what was the result of holding 11 meetings around the state? Nothing. Absolutely nothing changed in the structure of the annual basketball tourney, and rightfully so. Class basketball – and class sports in general – are a part of our athletic culture. If anyone knows me, then you know I loved single-class basketball and I wish it had never changed. But it did, and I accepted that change and have grown fond of watching our local teams win state titles.

Of the 6.5 million residents of the state that boasts Hoosier Hysteria as a source of pride, only 514 showed up at one of the 11 meetings to cast a straw ballot vote. Five hundred fourteen! That is a measly 811 ten-millionths of one-percent of Indiana’s population who took the time to attend a meeting and cast a ballot that everyone knew would go nowhere. Now, if 10,000 people would have shown up, that would be different. But they didn’t.

Of those 514 votes, 68-percent favored going back to one-class hoops. But you have to think that Bobby Plump and his supporters came out to the meetings more than non-supporters did. In fact, weren’t the meetings basically construed for the supporters since Sen. Delph orchestrated the meetings?

The meetings did produce some interesting results:

  • Milan: To no one’s surprise, in Plump’s hometown 67 of the 71 votes cast were for single-class basketball.
  • Marion: 52 of the 58 votes were for single-class.
  • The Region: Only nine of the 80,000 residents of Gary showed up at Roosevelt High (all nine voted for single-class basketball to return).
  • Vincennes (population 18,000): 48 people voted and 32 of them said keep it like it is.
  • Merrillville (population 35,000): 32 of 37 attendees voted for multi-class hoops.
  • Plymouth and Connersville: In cities where Scott Skiles and Phil Cox made basketball king, 117 total people showed up for the two meetings and 89 voted for single-class basketball. In fact, Class 3A Plymouth cast the most votes in the state with 76.

In his report, Cox concluded: “While there still exists a segment of Hoosier citizens that would support a return to a single class basketball format for the (IHSAA) and its membership, that same membership has once again demonstrated strong support for the current multiple class format. Member school administrators that hold the responsibility for school programming and implementation collectively support the current tournament structure by a percentage of 78.18%. Additionally in an interesting yet telling statistic, 72.16% of this year’s varsity basketball student athletes that responded to the question are in favor of the current system. It is also noted with interest that a smaller majority of basketball coaches are in favor of the current multiple class system; however 45.03% of those coaches prefer a single class tournament. In any measurement; principals, athletic administrators, coaches or student athletes, not one response group favored a return to single class basketball.”

I concur. Basketball fans need to move forward as I have. Much like how Title IX changed girls athletics, Alexander Graham Bell changed communications, Thomas Edison changed lighting, and Elwood Haynes changed transportation, the IHSAA changed basketball in 1998 and it is time to move on. I loved the old Kokomo sectional format and the Milan upset of Muncie Central, but I also like driving a car and talking to my sister instantaneously in Michigan.

Yes, I moved on and I hope Sen. Delph will too. I am sure that the people we vote into state office have more important things to do than worry about how the annual state basketball tournament is run. And to Commissioner Cox, thanks for keeping a cool head while traveling around Indiana with the state senator. But why is it I have a feeling this topic is not over with yet...

Until next time, remember to keep the man and ship in sports – and I’ll see you at the game.

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