By Andy Amey
TERRE HAUTE — It’s almost fall, so all the great traditions of the season are upon us — fantastic weather, apple cider, festivals, lots of orange, pumpkins, and questioning whether or not Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South belong in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference.
Actually, I don’t think that last one is so great.
I’m going to try real hard to be nice here, because a lot of the people doing the questioning are friends of mine. Or were, because I might not succeed in the nice part.
One of my latest e-mails asked if there were anything people could do about this situation, so here are a few suggestions.
1. Build a couple of steel mills and maybe an automobile manufacturing plant or two in the city.
This would not only have people moving here to get good jobs — instead of moving away to do so — but it would also boost the county’s tax base so we could have facilities like some of the mega-campuses in the Indianapolis area.
2. Tear down North and South and build four new high schools. We could call them Garfield, Gerstmeyer, Wiley and Honey Creek, and we could form a six-team conference with West Vigo and Northview.
The folks in northern Clay County love this suggestion, I imagine.
3. Tear down North and South and build one new high school. This would make Terre Haute High nearly as big as Carmel or Ben Davis, and the MIC would be able to add Pike for its eighth school.
4. Quit whining.
I like the MIC for a couple of reasons. I think it’s good that Vigo County athletes are tested against the best in the state — which, from what I’ve seen, has made them better in almost every sport — and I like the people I have to deal with in that conference. Travel is sometimes a problem, but at least the trip ends up at a nice, well lighted facility you can reach by interstate.
I’ve seen all the stats about how non-competitive North and South have been in MIC football competition, so I would like to ask those folks with so much time on their hands to do a little more research. Bring me the records of how North and South did before 1998 against any Class 5A-sized school. I don’t recall a whole lot of postseason celebrations, particularly since the golden age of the 1980s when we had the Thompson brothers, the Stephens brothers and Tony McGee.
I’ve heard the MIC causes a lack of interest in football, yet the turnouts for North and South are basically double what they used to be. I’ve heard injuries are a problem, but I see fewer late hits and virtually no dirty plays in MIC games, which isn’t always the case when I’ve watched smaller conferences play.
And I’m afraid the folks who measure success by wins and losses might discover that a preponderance of the success the Braves and Patriots have had in the past came against schools one-third their size or smaller. The fact that those schools were willing to play bigger schools reflects well on them; the fact that certain factions of North and South fans now aren’t willing to play bigger schools doesn’t seem particularly manly to me.
But it doesn’t matter what I think. My fear is that the MIC schools will get tired of driving 90 minutes to play North and South; if Pike finds a partner (Lawrence Central, Hamilton Southeastern, Fishers, all of the above?), our schools could be history.
And then who do they play? Conference Indiana doesn’t want them (and I don’t particularly want to be making trips to Columbus or even Bloomington on snowy winter nights), they’ve outgrown the SIAC (which would have four-lane highway trips, just twice as long) … who else is out there? I suppose they could gerrymander their boundaries and become Indianapolis public schools, or maybe beg their way into the Mid-State Conference so Martinsville and Decatur Central wouldn’t be the only 5A schools there.
Or could they join the WIC? The WRC? The WCC? The Southwest Seven? The Little Illini? Or they could play teams from Springfield, Ill., or Owensboro, Ky., like the Patriots had to a few years ago.
So folks, your wishes might still come true. But you know what I always say about wishes.
• • •
• A friend in need — Prayers and other good thoughts go out to former Tribune-Star sportswriter Tim Brooks, now the sports editor of the Robinson Daily News.
Tim was hospitalized earlier this week for bleeding on the brain, and could be there for awhile. Contributions for medical expenses are being accepted at First Robinson Savings Bank facilities throughout Crawford County.
Get back soon, man, because the Maroons, Panthers, Pioneers and Tigers — and your family — need you.
Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. for comments or news items at (812) 231-4277 or at 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.